Genetics has more influence on political orientation than environment

The modern doctrine is that sexual orientation is hard-wired, while political orientation is a matter of free will. Each is probably a mixture of both,  but the news here is that political orientation is influenced by genetics. Kevin Smith and John Hibbing conducted the study, based on the analysis of identical twins.

(Medical Xpress)—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 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.

The more recent paper backed up earlier research of theirs in 2005 that concluded:

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.

Another treatment of this article is found at Huffington Post.

What did the researchers find? The identical twins’ political views were consistently more similar than were those of the fraternal twins, and further statistical analysis revealed that these differences were partially the result of genetic influences.

“I know people get bent out of shape about this,” Smith said in a written statement. “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.”

Their work is consistent with what Jonathan Haidt has been showing with his Moral Foundations Theory.

Moral Foundations Theory is a social psychological theory intended to explain the origins of and variation in human moral reasoning on the basis of innate, modular foundations. At present, the theory proposes six such foundations: harm, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority, and purity; however, its authors envision the possibility of including additional foundations. The theory was first proposed by the psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Craig Joseph, building on the work of cultural anthropologist Richard Shweder, subsequently developed by a diverse group of collaborators, and popularized in Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind.

Although the initial development of moral foundations theory focused on cultural differences, subsequent work with the theory has largely focused on political ideology. Various scholars have offered moral foundations theory as an explanation of differences between political liberals and conservatives and have suggested that it can explain variation in opinion on politically charged issues such as gay marriage and abortion. In particular, Haidt has argued that liberals stress only three of the moral foundations (harm, fairness, and liberty) in their reasoning while conservatives stress all six more equally.


People who tend conservative are more cautious, more conscientious, more concerned with loyalty to the group, and hence more socially concerned, more concerned with seemliness, holiness, and quicker to disgust. Liberals tend to more concerned with procedural fairness, equality of outcomes, and freedom from oppressive social arrangements than are conservatives. It seems entirely reasonable that political orientations are the results, and not the sources, of profounder pre-political notions and sentiments: such as holiness, profaneness,fairness, disgust, oppression, sociability.

Studies like this confirm what everyone already knows. They are controversial only to a narrow segment of ideological liberals who insist that everything is environmental, and nothing genetic, except of course, homosexual orientation.