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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Social scientists most often seek to empirically validate something already observed. Genetics identifies the unobserved. It provides a starting point to identify developmental pathways to preferences and behaviors. Understanding differences in the genome can help identify why people who experience the same social environment physically perceive it differently and react to it differently. The introduction of evolutionary theory, combined with methods and approaches from genetics, genomics, epigenetics, and molecular biology, has substantially changed the way in which social scientists explore and understand the development and maintenance of political values and behaviors. This chapter reviews findings from recent empirical and theoretical studies that have explored how genetic factors account for some part of why people differ politically.

Keywords: evolution, genetics, politics, attitudes, nature–nurture

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