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Political Science, Biometric Theory, and Twin Studies: A Methodological Introduction

  • Sarah E. Medland (a1) and Peter K. Hatemi (a2)


As political scientists begin to incorporate biological influences as explanatory factors in political behavior, the need to present a methodological road map for utilizing biometric genetic theory and twin data is apparent. The classical twin design (CTD) remains the most popular design for initial examinations of the source of variance among social and political behaviors, and a vast majority of advanced variance components models as well as some molecular analyses are extensions of the CTD. Thus, it is appropriate to begin a series of works with the CTD and its most common variants. The CTD has strong roots in biometrical genetic theory and provides estimates of the correlations between observed traits of monozygotic and dizygotic twins in terms of underlying genetic and environmental influences. The majority of these analyses utilize SEMs of observed covariances for both twin types to assess the relative importance of these “latent” factors.


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Authors' note: We thank Michael Neale for access to the Mx program for structural modeling and Lindon Eaves for his mentorship. We also thank the anonymous reviewers and editor for their thoughtful and insightful comments.



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Political Analysis
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