Edited by Steven A. Peterson and Albert Somit
Though scholars in other fields generally recognize that most complex social behaviors may be partially rooted in genetic predispositions, most political scientists have been hesitant to examine their subject matter from this perspective. The idea that we may be genetically predisposed to prefer a certain set of policies or to process our environments in particular ways appears counter to decades of political science scholarship and centuries of political theory. Leveraging samples of twins raised together, extended family designs, molecular genetics and other recent advances, researchers have consistently demonstrated that both genetic and environmental factors have a role to play in politics, both in the United States and abroad. This examination of the role of genes in politics has led to significant advancements in the study of political ideology and party identification, political behaviors, and other traits that are relevant to various aspects of political life. In this chapter, we will outline the major findings in the literature while explaining the pathways and theoretical links that scholars have posited between genes and politics.
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