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In Defense of Genopolitics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2013

University of California, San Diego
New York University
James Fowler is Professor of Medical Genetics and Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. (
Christopher T. Dawes is Assistant Professor of Politics at the Department of Politics, New York University.


The American Political Science Review recently published a critique of an article we published in the Journal of Politics in 2008. In that article we showed that variants of the genes 5HTT and MAOA were significantly associated with voter turnout in a sample of 2,300 subjects from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Here, we address the critique first by conducting a replication study using an independent sample of 9,300 subjects. This study replicates the gene-environment interaction of the 5HTT gene variant with church attendance, but not the association with MAOA. We then focus on the general argument of the critique, showing that many of its characterizations of the literature in genetics and in political science are misleading or incorrect. We conclude by illustrating the ways in which genopolitics has already made a lasting contribution to the field of political science and by offering guidelines for future studies in genopolitics that are based on state-of-the-art recommendations from the field of behavior genetics.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 2013 

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