Twins Study Confirms Genetic Role in Political Belief

Leslie Reed, Medical Xpress, December 16, 2013

A research paper appearing in the academic journal Political Psychology re-affirms the genetic underpinnings of political beliefs, refuting critics who challenged previous research that linked politics with genetics.

The new paper, “Genetic and Environmental Transmission of Political Orientations,” is the lead article in the December edition of the journal. It is based upon a 2009 survey of nearly 600 sets of twins in their 50s and 60s, sought through the Minnesota Twin Registry.

“The data from the twin studies is strong enough now that if you don’t believe political attitudes and behaviors are genetically inherited, you can’t believe that breast cancer is genetically inherited and you can’t believe that addictions are genetically inherited,” said Kevin Smith, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln political scientist who co-authored the study.

{snip}

The reasoning behind a twins study is that pairs of twins share the same environment—they are reared by the same parents, in the same household, with the same socioeconomic and political influences. But monozygotic twins—who develop from the same fertilized egg—share 100 percent of their genetics, while dizygotic twins, who develop from separate fertilized eggs, share about half their genetics, like any other pair of siblings. Therefore, if monozygotic twins show a greater tendency to share political orientations than do dizygotic twins, that tendency can be attributed to genetics, not to environment.

Hibbing cautions that the latest study shows a genetic connection to general political orientations, which in turn influence a person’s stance on specific issues.

“Since it is not logical that genetics directly relates to highly specific political issues such as tax codes and school prayer, the recently published article constitutes an attempt to identify the broader orientations, such as authoritarianism and egalitarianism, that do connect to both genetics and specific issues.”

This is not the first time political scientists have studied twins to tease out whether political beliefs result from genetics.

A 2005 paper written by Smith’s colleagues and research collaborators, Hibbing of UNL, John Alford of Rice University and Carolyn L. Funk of Virginia Commonwealth University, sent shock waves through the field of political science. Studies of personality traits and how they influence political orientation date back at least to the 1950s, when researchers attempted to understand the rise of fascism in the 1930s and ’40s.

The 2005 paper directly challenged conventional wisdom that children are taught their political attitudes by their parents, with their beliefs later being shaped by life events and experiences.

“We find that political attitudes are influenced much more heavily by genetics than by parental socialization,” the researchers wrote in the 2005 paper.

But critics questioned that study’s methodology, saying that twin studies are problematic measures of the influence of environment and genetics on personality traits.

Critics in one article argued that it cannot be assumed that twins, whether monozygotic or dizygotic, have equal environmental influences. Monozygotic twins tend to spend more time with one another and to more closely identify with one another than do dizygotic twins. That intimacy, more than actual genetics, could explain why monozygotic twins are more likely to share beliefs and traits.

{snip}

Smith said the conclusions remained unchanged, even after factoring assumptions about monozygotic twins’ shared environments.

“We made serious, heroic assumptions about shared environments, but we couldn’t make the genetic connection go away,” Smith said.

Smith emphasized that genetics are not destiny. Even though people may be genetically predisposed to take a conservative or liberal view toward politics and social issues, those views also are influenced by their social environment and experiences.

“I know people get bent out of shape about this,” he said. “The environment is important, it’s just not everything. You can talk about biology and you can talk about the environment. Who we are is a combination of both.”

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  • If political beliefs are heavily influenced by genetics, then it stands to reason that “political beliefs,” in the way these researchers studied them, are really nothing more than fronts for tribal interests (race, ethnicity, family, etc.) of one sort or another. Indeed, we do read in the article that highly abstract and esoteric issues were outside the bounds of the research, and that “broader orientations…like egalitarianism” were considered.

    As most of us who read these words know, egalitarianism is almost always a front for tribal interests. If egalitarianism as defined by the zeitgeist of the day benefits your tribe, you’re for it, if it hurts your tribe, you’re against it. Abstract ideologies and arguments made on behalf of either side are nothing more than smokescreens.

    • Excellent, excellent untangling of some very abstract issues. To wit, the amount of egalitarianism in a person is really the amount of tribal identity in the person, and it is strength of tribal identity that would be measured by genetic studies.
      Hmmm. Taking this further, egalitarianism in whites in the present day West is the weakness of tribal identity – or maybe egalitarianism would be the susceptibility to the mass media and to the political environment around one.
      In summary, egalitarianism is a bad thing to try to be relating to genetics, unless you take into account the very complex factors stated above.

      • QuinnTheEskimo9

        “Taking this further, egalitarianism in whites in the present day West is the weakness of tribal identity”

        This is what our enemies wish us to believe, that any show of white solidarity is a sign of weakness of psycopathology. It exactly goes against human nature. All humans are tribal, it is what is normal and natural and what lead to our survival in the cold reaches of Northen Europe.
        Notice that they push egalitarianism, melting pot and multiculturalism on whites and ONLY whites but reserve for themselves the right to tribalism.

    • Freedom Fighter

      “As most of us who read these words know, egalitarianism is almost always a front for tribal interests.”

      Actually, I would refine that by contending that egalitarianism is partly an evolutionary strategy designed to elevate one’s social status within a group by appealing to a broader coalition of individuals and groups, while securing that position by pitting that alliance against other individuals or groups (i.e. my progressive group = ally while morally inferior group = enemy). As a by product, the reproductive success of the ancient egalitarian increased and was more assured than smaller, more collective groups competing with each other within a society. Unfortunately, this has had dire consequences in the modern era. These ancient genetics are not compatible with the information age.

  • KevinPhillipsBong

    That much of our intellectual/psychological traits are genetic in origin is a truth that has become glaringly-blindingly-blaringly obvious. Study after study after study confirms it. It cannot be admitted to and it cannot be debated, therefore it will be thoroughly ignored.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      On a spectrum of 0 to 10, with 0 representing 100% environment and 10 representing 100% genetic…

      The only ideologically acceptable answer is 0 or perhaps a grudging 1.

      In most unanswered conundrums we might look at both sides and until more reliable scientific data indicates otherwise, all other factors held equal…

      Would it not be rational to assume a median position, like 4 – 6?

      But no, again NO. Our ideology tolerates 0 (safe) or a questionably racist 1. Anything above 1 is “racist” and therefore thoughtcrime.

      Pseudo-Marxist Democratic Totalitarianism at work.

    • Luca

      The best proof is dogs. People go on and on, day after day, accepting the reality that certain breeds have more intelligence, or better herding qualities, or better water adaptation, or better protection/aggression qualities etc.

      Selective breeding for measurable results cannot be denied, ask any dog breeder. When nature makes the selections we still must admit them. The only time we have a problem is when liberals refuse to admit that humans are subject to the same laws of nature as other animals on this planet.

      • Matthew Taylor

        I have read that a drop of human blood can reveal a racial profile of a person through DNA analysis, but a drop of canine blood can only reveal that it is from a dog without breed or admixture information. This would seem to imply that the various dog breeds are genetically closer to each other tan the various races of humans are to each other.

        • ben no

          I suppose that is not a good find for the liberal left.

      • ben no

        Exactly. So if dog breeds with terrier in them tend to be more aggressive in nature, and we say that unashamedly so, then we should have no problem in saying that races with higher testosterone tend to be more aggressive in nature as well. Namely…blacks and partial blacks.

  • 48224

    I suspected this for years. The way “Democrats” breed, we are all done for. We conservative people don’t breed like our egalitarian friends. This will eventually cause a collapse of all societies. Not sure what will happen after that. Maybe logical thinking, science and common sense will prevail….but I wouldn’t count on it.

  • JohnEngelman

    The Nazi movement discredited the previous consensus that hereditary was the major factor in determining ability levels, personality, and character. As World War II fades as a living memory and as scientific evidence accumulates there is likely to be a swing back to genetic determinism.

    • Daniel Schmuhl

      The Third Reich was not influenced by the eugenics movement of the west or genetics at all. Hereditarianism was pushed out of the academy by progressives (mostly of Jewish origin). Now it is true that most people associate Hitler with western eugenics because they’e been taught fraudulent progressive history.

      • WR_the_realist

        Actually the Nazis were inspired in part by the eugenics movement in the United States. That’s one of those things you probably won’t learn in high school. Of course eugenics had nothing to do with the worst actions of the Nazis, but in a process of guilt by association the very concept of eugenics became taboo after the Nazi period.

        • Daniel Schmuhl

          Yeah there was some influence but not in any real intellectual sense. The Nazis were not influenced by Galton, Darwin, Grant etc. Of course there are a few references to Darwin here and there but he doesn’t seem to have much impact.

          The reason why Eugenics and hereditarianism in general are associated with Hitler though is due to progressive interpretation of history.

      • QuinnTheEskimo9

        The Third Reich also kicked out the pro-Marxist Frankfurt School with its degenerates like Horkheimer, Marcuse and Adorno who went to Columbia University where they continued their withering attacks on Western Civilization. What did they care? It wasn’t THEIR culture that was being attacked.
        We’ve been paying the price for letting them in ever since.

    • MBlanc46

      It’s happening. Not quickly enough for my tastes, but it’s happening.

  • Daniel Schmuhl

    I don’t think most people really grasp the significance of this. If there are strong biological predispositions and people are prone to rationalizing things they never reasoned themselves into, then it means that trying to change things by rational argument will not succeed, force is necessary.

    • “… trying to change things by rational argument will not succeed, force is necessary.”

      Application of force won’t succeed either.

      Some problems have no solutions and must instead be avoided. The only viable answer I see is secession of Alaska, which has hardly any people and therefore no significant baggage to be jettisoned. It is the same kind of blank canvas that the ancestors of the Founders encountered in the New World.

    • MBlanc46

      Sometimes force is necessary. And sometimes it’s necessary to agree to disagree and seek solutions to optimize our satisfactions.

    • Anna Tree

      Maybe not force but balance:

      From Michael Crichton “The Lost Word”


      “… complex systems [show] certain common behaviors. [… those seem] to arise from the spontaneous interaction of the components […] therefore called “self-organizing.”

      […] “two are particular interest to the study of evolution. One is adaptation. We see it everywhere. Corporations adapt to the marketplace, brain cells adapt to signal traffic, the immune system adapts to infection, animals adapt to their food supply. We have come to think that the ability to adapt is characteristic of complex systems – and may be one reason why evolution seems to lead toward more complex organisms.”

      […] “But even more important,” he said, “is the way complex systems seem to strike a balance between the need for order and the imperative to change. Complex systems tend to locate themselves at a place we call ‘the edge of chaos.’ We imagine the edge of chaos as a place where there is enough innovation to keep a living system vibrant, and enough stability to keep it from collapsing into anarchy. It is a zone of conflict and upheaval, where the old and the new are constantly at war. Finding the balance point must be a delicate matter – if a living system drifts too close, it risks falling over into incoherence and dissolution; but if the system moves too far away from the edge, it becomes rigid, frozen, totalitarian. Both conditions lead to extinction. Too much change is as destructive as too little. Only at the edge of chaos can complex systems flourish.”
      He paused. “And, by implication, extinction is the inevitable result of one or the other strategy – too much change, or too little.”

    • robinbishop34

      “We don’t live in a society of philosophers, and even philosophers are
      bad when it comes to rationalizing their irrational beliefs.”

      I respectfully disagree. I think we live in a world where foreign, domestic, economic, and social policy are to a large extent based on philosophical abstractions. Heck, I respectfully debated a number of ‘philosophers’ this past weekend on a youTube video of a CNN special suggesting racial bias in white children.

    • JohnEngelman

      Facts and logic are only effective on issues where emotions are not aroused. If someone wants to believe something, trying to persuade the person that it is not true only gets the person angry.

      • ben no

        Then this would testify to the fact that whites are the most rational group and more so than the East Asians. For instance, whites generally accept that they don’t have the highest mean IQ, despite it not being what they really want. They accept it and without problem – even the nationalists do. Where as the East Asians find it difficult to accept that they are far from being the most innovative group. In fact, the first thing they do is simply deny it, and then feebly attempt to make out that they are now just as innovative as whites, if not more so with their technological advancements – in which they used and borrowed western technology to get there. The inability to accept truth seems to dominate their thinking and the irrationality takes hold of them, so they are not able to see where they’re go wrong, all while whites having to put up with their nonsense.

  • Spartacus

    And of course, they’ll find some “proof” that this doesn’t apply differently to different races…

    • Daniel Schmuhl

      Different races most likely have different average moral and political intuitions, Jonathan Haidt has an interesting piece on Edge about how faster evolution means more differences in terms of moral intuitions. We really need to get over this psychological unity of mankind nonsense.

      • hkq999

        Well, all humans do share most qualities.

  • Luca

    “There are three classes of people: Those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” – Leonardo da Vinci

    What Da Vinci did not say, is that they were born this way.

    • Evette Coutier

      So true.

    • Evette Coutier

      What daVinci missed is that often those who do not see believe they see everything, and they are the majority of the population. It amazes me how many people think they see and are insightful, and yet all they do is quote verbatim what their leaders tell them. Our cause faces a difficult uphill struggle because we try to use fact and reason to convince emotional group thinkers who are incapable of having any thoughts or ideas that are not politically popular. They only accept what validates their feelings. Fact has nothing to do with it.

      • Luca

        The best we can hope for is to convince those “who see when shown” and hope that equates to 2/3 of the population when combined with those who see.

        The final 1/3 are delusional and you cannot reason with an unreasonable person nor can you rationalize with irrational people.

        The group in the middle must be swayed by being shown.

    • ben no

      Where’d you get that from?

  • bigone4u

    This study punctures the baloon of the new Republican outreach to Hispanics. Republicans will be fighting genetics in trying to get Mexicans, Cubans, et. al. to vote for them. But they’ve convinced themselves that Mexican family values will push the Mexicans into their waiting arms. More like empty arms those Republicans will experience.

    • WR_the_realist

      Republicans are hopeless. They see the high birth rates of Hispanics and interpret that to mean, “They have strong family values, so will vote Republican.” Never mind that half of those children are born out of wedlock.

      • John K

        They also breed for the almighty welfare check. Many pregnant Mexican women hop the border when close to giving birth so they can stay in country afterwards, and their ethnicity guarantees them the ability to leech off of tax paying citizens.

        Walk into any hospital along the border and look in their waiting rooms, and you’ll see them full of 14-15 year old pregnant Mexican girls.

        As for the Republicans, they are worthless imbeciles. It’s their incompetence that has doomed us, and they’ll never get it that minorities only vote for who will give them a free ride through life. They will demonize their white voter base to protect the illegal invaders.

        Like the Bush-bots said, they do the work that Americans won’t. Sure, if you count DUIs, rape, murder, robbery, and gang activity as work…

    • JohnEngelman

      The “family values” of Hispanics are restricted to being hostile toward homosexuals. Hispanics have a higher illegitimacy rate than whites.

      • bigone4u

        The S. Texas area where I live is 80 percent Mexican. The culture is one of incest, illegitimacy (14 years olds all have babies), gangs, stupidity of all sorts, contagious diseases that I thought were wiped out, school drop outs, welfare, petty crimes, massive ignorance, and so much more. Let the dumb Republicans spend a week in the local barrio living in a flophouse motel and then formulate their plans to get that Hispanic vote. My patriotic Mexican friends are not part of the culture I described but for some reason they still are loyal Democrats. Thus, I conclude Republicans are doing wishful thinking.

  • Anon

    “Since it is not logical that genetics directly relates to highly specific political issues such as tax codes and school prayer”

    An interesting bit of doublespeak. Logic. And by extension, science, is simply an insistence that assumptions and observations can be stereotypical and repeating, allowing one to form conclusions based on patterns and that such patterns can predict outcomes and that studying those outcomes can refine the methods you make such predictions.
    What Reed means when he makes this comment is that his own findings violate dogma and should be dismissed. Which is, of course, the exact opposite of making a logical argument. It is unscientific. And one day, in the future, more informed people will make fun of him the same way we make fun of those in the past that adhered to dogma rather than accept simple, clearly observable evidence…..or came up with weird, unlikely twisted logic to force the acceptance of dogma when confronted with observations that directly contradicted it.

    Why exactly would genetics being directly related to highly specific political issues be illogical. It is not. I holds sacrosanct a person is an individual and his identity, how he thinks, his attitudes and opinions are an island and not a function of his society. Such an idea is barely a generation old and not held by any other culture nor historical period. It is intensely irrational and directly contradicts most observable behavior. People act as groups….live in societies…cooperate in behavior. Hell…we live in the most controlled society on earth because their god, the TV tells people what to do. Reeds presupposition is a joke when stated directly and probed.

    Far better would be to apply inductive reasoning. He’s found a result that violates previous assumption and observation. Inductive reasoning holds that those assumptions must change and/or further observations be made to make sure they are typical and not an outlier of some sort or just random chance.

    What Reed has stumbled upon is something all racial aware people should know or figure out soon. People of the same race, think alike.

    Actually, I will go much farther. Only white people think like individuals. Other races, their group identity is far stronger than their individual one, to the point that their individuality is not important, not valued (even held in contempt).

    Consider the japanese. A japanese man would be MORTIFIED, if you singled him out and congratulated him for his accomplishments and went on and on about him personally. Asked his opinion on anything, you’d basically get back whatever opinion was held by whatever group he belonged to. It might not even occur to him to HAVE an opinion. It never crosses his mind.

    But, at least, if you asked him his name, he’d know it. Many blacks…don’t. This is an amazing difference between white and black people that most who deal with blacks, know about to various extents but has not been studied in any great depth. By our standards, they are literally psychotic….with an unstable, shifting, fractured, primitive self-identity. Things like responsibility, guilt, obedience, law and order, work….these have no meaning to a person who has no concept of self or only a limited concept of self that changes on the hour. How much CHOICE is involved in such a person. My cat has more choice in his behavior than the average black criminal (and is easier trained to do something).

    But also. White people are not as “free” to be what we are as we think we are.

    Reed….once he gets over his cognitive dissonance could probably spend a career probing the depths of that.

    • hkq999

      God what black people have you been around?

  • puffdaddy

    Then how can someone’s political beliefs change, which they do?

    • John K

      Any study can be fabricated.

    • MBlanc46

      It’s specific beliefs, but fundamental attitudes. It’s rather like St. Paul being a fanatic both when he persecuted Christians and when he evangelized for Christianity. The beliefs changed, but the attitude was constant.

    • I think what changes in most people are the individual items that the authors of this study termed “esoteric abstractions.” But the underlying concrete worldview, (I don’t even want to call it an ideology), doesn’t much change if at all.

      If someone does change their fundamental underlying worldview, such as the former leftist egalitarians that now comment regularly in this space, I contend that they were never really leftist egalitarians in the first place, that they had to spout the party line at least superficially in order to make a living or to be socially respectable. But a “former” leftist-egalitarian-antiracist who “converts” to our side was really on our side all along deep in their marrow, I think.

      • puffdaddy

        What I find amazing is how some people stick to their views no matter what happens to them – a recent example are some of the comments in response to a recent NY Times article about artists losing their insurance because of Obamacare and complaining about it in the story. Some of the commenters where of the “remember your values” and “you’re so selfish” variety – talk about clinging to your religion and guns. It doesn’t matter how many times people are slapped by reality, it must be too emotionally painful to admit they’ve been wrong.

      • hkq999

        That’s kind of odd. I’m sure you wouldn’t say they’re on this side when they were passionately advocating leftist policies. I’ve known too many people have have dramatically changed their political views and even their world views to believe genetics determine absolutely everything.

    • M.

      I think it means that someone can be naturally enclined to be of such side of the spectrum, but that doesn’t mean real-life experience or new data can’t sway them to the other side.
      Just like some people are naturally and more enclined to be cheerful. That doesn’t mean they can’t be gloomy.

    • Luca

      People change when they see the light. Some people see it immediately, others take time, and the rest never do.

  • IstvanIN

    What constitutes “liberal” and “conservative” have changed over time. Perhaps some people are more predisposed to liking change while others are more predisposed to keeping things the same. Our founding fathers were liberal by the standards of their day, no doubt the loyalists were more conservative.

    • Anna Tree

      I apologize for posting this again from above, but it seems to me a good comment to your post too. From Michael Crichton “The Lost Word”:


      “… complex systems [show] certain common behaviors. [… those seem] to arise from the spontaneous interaction of the components […] therefore called “self-organizing.”

      […] “two are particular interest to the study of evolution. One is adaptation. We see it everywhere. Corporations adapt to the marketplace, brain cells adapt to signal traffic, the immune system adapts to infection, animals adapt to their food supply. We have come to think that the ability to adapt is characteristic of complex systems – and may be one reason why evolution seems to lead toward more complex organisms.”

      […] “But even more important,” he said, “is the way complex systems seem to strike a balance between the need for order and the imperative to change. Complex systems tend to locate themselves at a place we call ‘the edge of chaos.’ We imagine the edge of chaos as a place where there is enough innovation to keep a living system vibrant, and enough stability to keep it from collapsing into anarchy. It is a zone of conflict and upheaval, where the old and the new are constantly at war. Finding the balance point must be a delicate matter – if a living system drifts too close, it risks falling over into incoherence and dissolution; but if the system moves too far away from the edge, it becomes rigid, frozen, totalitarian. Both conditions lead to extinction. Too much change is as destructive as too little. Only at the edge of chaos can complex systems flourish.” He paused. “And, by implication, extinction is the inevitable result of one or the other strategy – too much change, or too little.”

  • Unlike other discussion threads on American Renaissance or elsewhere, this thread seems to have stumbled – fallen – into some genuinely deep philosophical issues concerning knowledge and genetics, thrashing about, trying to figure out the issues.

    • Bossman

      I don’t understand what it is that you’re trying to say. All I know is that when people become well-educated, they become more liberal in the traditional sense of that word.

      • jane johnson

        Keyword being “traditional”. Modern liberalism is anything but.

  • KevinPhillipsBong

    In 1958, Audrey Shuey published “The Testing of Negro Intelligence” which brought together about 300 different studies all showing a white-black IQ gap of about 15 points. Such a thorough accumulation of information (with almost nothing to argue against it) should have settled the issue – that the black-white IQ gap is real and lasting. That was 55 years ago and people still cannot see what’s right in front of their faces. Studies since then have only reinforced the findings of Shuey. But to what effect? Liberals will just ignore them and stick to their Trotsky for Dummies talking points instead (income inequality, racism, blah, blah, blah…)

  • Ragehol .

    The fudge factor happens again. There is a genetic basis in overarching political thought that physiologically manifests itself to the point where facial structure and body type are statistically significant predictors of whether someone will identify himself or herself as “right wing” or “left wing.”

    Twin studies are the signature and definitive hereditarian/genetic and biological determinist
    study. Of course the high priests for the Celebrate Diversity, One World Government With The “Eskimos” In Charge model of the world despise these studies. They have nothing to offer other than silly things like “contact taint” and “stereotype threat” to the clear cut science of hereditarianism. The last ditch effort sounds high faluting, very Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning: They “attack the methodology.” They always seek to “attack the methodology” of these studies that show them to be wrong.

  • QuinnTheEskimo9

    ”said Kevin Smith, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln political scientist who co-authored the study.”
    Political science is not a hard science and should not even be called “science,” because it is not. Next, step will be to suggest mind-altering drugs and intensive therapy to conservatives, tea party members and anyone else who questions Obama’s policies. The next generation will have “correct” DNA inserted to make them compliant like sheep.

    • jane johnson

      A better approach would be to insert a reality gene into the leftists, and a civilization gene into their pets.

      • Hunter Morrow

        6 billion people in 110 years.
        The problem will be solved, but not with more insertion!

  • QuinnTheEskimo9

    Yes. Egalitarianism, multiculturalism, diversity and other silly programs (pogroms) that go against human nature are for OTHER tribes especially the White Euro tribe, not the hypocrital tribe that is pushing it, They reserve for themselves the right to a homeland where they can keep their own DNA pure, but agitate for the handing over of white homelands to third world immigrants.

    Not only Boas, but the rest of the anti-white, sorry lot as well: Frankfurt school, Marx and Freud. It’s been a 50 year, muti- pronged pronged attack against the white race.

  • Young Werther

    Great bi-line once again. There ya go…my waspness explained once again…I wonder if Martin Luther ever wonders why he bothered?

    • Young Werther

      ok forget the p in Wasp…that goes to archetype of both Plato and Jung…so cool.

      • Young Werther

        And then that scares me because then I would have to say I belong to the (once called white man’s race) identity of WAS…

  • ben no

    Too many middle-class families are liberal by default. But the infrastructure of a society is built by the working class who outnumber the rest. We all know that the middle-class is often, generally selfish, and would rather see the destruction of an entire civilization, than live less than what they already do. The middle-class are like a detonator, whether they realize it or not, even while vastly outnumbered, they can ruin things for everyone.