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Linking Genes and Political Orientations: Cognitive Ability as Mediator Hypothesis
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
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2015 (English)In: Political Psychology, ISSN 0162-895X, E-ISSN 1467-9221, Vol. 36, no 6, 649-665 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent research has demonstrated that genetic differences explain a sizeable fraction of the variance in political orientations but little is known about the pathways through which genes might affect political preferences. In this paper we use a uniquely assembled dataset of almost 1,000 Swedish male twin pairs containing detailed information on cognitive ability and political attitudes in order to further examine the genetic and environmental causes of political orientations. Our study makes three distinct contributions to our understanding of the etiology of political orientations: (i) we report heritability estimates across different dimensions of political ideology; (ii) we show that cognitive ability and political orientations are related; and (iii) we provide evidence consistent with the hypothesis that cognitive ability mediates part of the genetic influence on political orientations. These findings provide important clues about the nature of the complex pathways from molecular genetic variation to political orientations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 36, no 6, 649-665 p.
Keyword [en]
political orientation, cognitive ability, heritability
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-230021DOI: 10.1111/pops.12230ISI: 000368248100003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-230021DiVA: diva2:738733
NAture, nurture and political orientations
Swedish Research CouncilThe Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius FoundationForte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Available from: 2014-08-19 Created: 2014-08-19 Last updated: 2016-07-20Bibliographically approved

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Oskarsson, Sven
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