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Do Heritability Estimates of Political Phenotypes Suffer From an Equal Environment Assumption Violation? Evidence From an Empirical Study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2012

Levente Littvay*
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary Visiting Scholar, Department of Political Science, Washington State University
*
Address for Correspondence: Levente Littvay, Central European University, Department of Political Science, Nador u. 9, Budapest 1051 Hungary. Email: littvayl@ceu-budapest.edu

Abstract

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Using data from the Minnesota Twins Political Survey, this paper tests for the presence of unequal environments (EEA) by zygosity in political attitudes. Equal environment measures used include shared bedroom, friends, classes, and dressing alike. Results show an EEA violation at p < .05 in 5% of the models tested. The violations' impact on heritability estimates and their confidence levels appear random in magnitude and direction. No reasonable post hoc explanation emerged for understanding the presence of the violation in some items but not others. This article establishes reasonable priors for the absence of EEA violations in political phenotypes based on the tested environmental components. The findings place the burden on critics to present theoretical work on the specific mechanisms of EEA violations based on which additional empirical assessments could (and should) be conducted.

Type
Special Section: The Intersection of Behavioral Genetics and Political Science
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012
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