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Candidate Genes and Voter Turnout: Further Evidence on the Role of 5-HTTLPR


Recently in this journal, Charney and English (2012) presented an extensive critique of candidate gene association studies using the widely noted Fowler and Dawes (2008) article on the relationship between self-reported voter turnout and both 5-HTT (serotonin transporter) and MAOA (monoamine oxidase A) as the driving example of their evaluation. Reanalysis of the Fowler and Dawes data by Charney and English, based on four critiques of candidate gene studies, led to the conclusion that neither polymorphism is related to variations in turnout. We add to this empirical debate by conducting an independent test using an original dataset containing 5-HTT data and two separate participation variables: self-reported participation and actual voting records. Our results confirm the original conclusions by Fowler and Dawes on 5-HTT, but also support several of the critiques suggested by Charney and English. We conclude by offering suggestions for the way candidate gene association studies should be interpreted by the discipline and processed by journal editors.

Corresponding author
Kristen Diane Deppe is Graduate Student, Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (
Scott F. Stoltenberg is Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (
Kevin B. Smith is Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (
John R. Hibbing is Foundation Regents Professor of Political Science and Psychology, Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (
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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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