Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

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

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.