Could your political persuasion be inherited? A political-science professor says it could be in your genes. John Hibbing cautions that it’s far from the answer to the nature-versus-nurture debate about which has more influence on the way you turn out.
He says nobody’s ever claimed that it’s entirely nature — there’s nothing in behavioral genetics that would find that. He says what you might inherit is a basic attitude toward group life, not voting behavior.
In other words, you can inherit a tendency to have a certain kind of personality, and to look at the world in certain ways…which in turn could broadly indicate the way you might vote. “It’s a “very clever and interesting interaction between genes and your environment that explains a variety of things,” Hibbing says. He says it does not explain voting behavior, but rather how you approach the political world…whether you’re fearful of “out groups,” prefer the in-group leader to show more clarity and certainty, or more flexibility.
“Obviously in our evolutionary path, we had no opportunity to vote,” he observes, “or to express an opinion on nuclear power or property taxes.” It’d have to be that genetics have influenced our deeper political orientations and attitudes toward social life.
That may in turn show itself in attitudes toward public policies. Hibbing’s team of political scientists are trying to prove the point with studies of twins and their political beliefs. So far he says identical twins responded to a series of questions with answers that matched more closely than did the answers of non-twin siblings.