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Heritability in Political Interest and Efficacy across Cultures: Denmark and the United States

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2012

Robert Klemmensen
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark
Peter K. Hatemi
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University
Sara B. Hobolt
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science
Axel Skytthe
Affiliation:
The Danish Twin Registry, University of Southern Denmark
Asbjørn S. Nørgaard*
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark
*
Address for Correspondence: Asbjørn Sonne Nørgaard, Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark. Email: ano@sam.sdu.dk

Abstract

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Interest in politics is important for a host of political behaviors and beliefs. Yet little is known about where political interest comes from. Most studies exploring the source of political interest focus on parental influences, economic status, and opportunity. Here, we investigate an alternative source: genetic transmission. Using two twin samples, one drawn from Denmark and the other from USA, we find that there is a high degree of heritability in political interest. Furthermore, we show that interest in politics and political efficacy share the same underlying, latent genetic factor. These findings add to the growing body of literature that documents political behaviors and attitudes as not simply the result of socialization, but also as part of an individual's genetically informed disposition.

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