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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

As recently as 2005, John Alford and colleagues surprised political science with their twin study that found empirical evidence of the genetic transmission of political attitudes and behaviors. Reactions in the field were mixed, but one thing is for sure: it is not time to mourn the social part of the social sciences. Genetics is not the deterministic mechanism that social scientists often assume it to be. No specific part of DNA is responsible for anything but minute, indirect effects on political orientations. Genes express themselves differently in different contexts, suggesting that the political phenomenon behavioral political scientists take for granted may be quite volatile; hence, the impact of genetics is also much less stable in its foundations than initially assumed. Twin studies can offer a unique and powerful avenue to study these behavioral processes as they are more powerful than cross-sectional (or even longitudinal) studies not only for understanding heritability but also for asserting the direction of causation, the social (and, of course, genetic) pathways that explain how political phenomena are related to each other. This chapter aims to take the reader through this journey that political science has gone through over the past decade and a half and point to the synergies behavioral political science and behavioral genetics offer to the advancement of the discipline.

Keywords: twin study, behavior genetics, heritability, socialization, gene

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