Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

In Defense of Genopolitics

  • JAMES H. FOWLER (a1) and CHRISTOPHER T. DAWES (a2)

Abstract

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

Corresponding author

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

References

Hide All
Alford, J. R., Funk, C. L., and Hibbing, J. R.. 2005. “Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?American Political Science Review 99 (2): 153–67.
Arceneaux, K., Johnson, M., and Maes, H. H.. 2012. “The Genetic Basis of Political Sophistication.” Twin Research and Human Genetics 15 (1): 3441.
Beauchamp, J. P., Cesarini, D., Johannesson, M., van der Loos, M. J. H. M., Koellinger, P. D., Groenen, P. J. F., Fowler, J. H., Rosenquist, J. N., Thurik, A. R., and Christakis, N. A.. 2011. “Molecular Genetics and Economics.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 25 (4): 127.
Benjamin, D., et al. 2012a. “The Promises and Pitfalls of Genoeconomics.” Annual Review of Economics 4: 627–62.
Benjamin, D., et al. 2012b. “The Genetic Architecture of Economic and Political Preferences.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (21): 8026–31.
Berent, M. K., Krosnick, J. A., and Lupia, A.. 2011. “The Quality of Government Records and “Overestimation” of Registration and Turnout in Surveys: Lessons from the 2008 ANES Panel Study's Registration and Turnout Validation Exercises.” Working Paper NES s012554. August 2011 version. Ann Arbor, MI: American National Election Studies.
Bertolino, A., Arciero, G., Rubino, V., Latorre, V., De Candia, M., and Mazzola, V.. 2005. “Variation of Human Amygdala Response during Threatening Stimuli as a Function of 5HTTLPR Genotype and Personality Style.” Biological Psychiatry 57: 1517–25.
Blais, A., and Labbé-St-Vincent, S.. 2011. “Personality Traits, Political Attitudes, and the Propensity to Vote.” European Journal of Political Research 50: 395417.
Bond, R. M., Fariss, C. J., Jones, J. J., Kramer, A. D. I., Marlow, C., Settle, J. E., and Fowler, J. H.. 2012. “A 61-million-person Experiment in Social Influence and Political Mobilization.” Nature 489: 295–98.
Bowler, S., and Donovan, T.. 2002. “Democracy, Institutions and Attitudes about Citizen Influence on Government.” British Journal of Political Science 32: 371–90.
Cassel, C. A. 1999. “Voluntary Associating, Churches, and Social Participation Theories of Turnout.” Social Science Quarterly 80 (3): 504–17.
Chabris, C., et al. 2012. “Most Reported Genetic Associations with General Intelligence Are Probably False Positives.” Psychological Science 23 (11): 1314–23.
Charney, E., and English, W.. 2012. “Candidate Genes and Political Behavior.” American Political Science Review 106 (1): 134.
Cheung, V. G., and Spielman, R. S.. 2009. “Genetics of Human Gene Expression: Mapping DNA Variants That Influence Gene Expression.” Nature Reviews Genetics 10: 595604.
Christakis, N. A., and Fowler, J. H.. 2009. Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. New York: Little Brown.
Craig, I. W. 2007. “The Importance of Stress and Genetic Variation in Human Aggression.” Bioessays 29 (3): 227–36.
Cranmer, Skyler J., and Dawes, Christopher T.. 2012. “The Heritability of Foreign Policy Preferences.” Twin Research and Human Genetics 15 (1): 5259.
Davies, G., et al. 2011. “Genome-Wide Association Studies Establish that Human Intelligence is Highly Heritable and Polygenic.” Molecular Psychiatry 16: 9961005.
Dawes, C. T., and Fowler, J. H.. 2009. “Partisanship, Voting, and the Dopamine D2 Receptor Gene.” Journal of Politics 71 (3): 1157–71.
Dawes, C. T., Loewen, P. J., and Fowler, J. H.. 2011. “Social Preferences and Political Participation.” Journal of Politics 72 (4): 1189–98.
Dimas, A. S., et al. 2009. “Common Regulatory Variation Impacts Gene Expression in a Cell Type-dependent Manner.” Science 325: 1246–50.
Duncan, L. E., and Keller, M. C.. 2011. “A Critical Review of the First 10 Years of Candidate Gene-by-environment Interaction Research in Psychiatry.” American Journal of Psychiatry 168: 1041–49.
Eaves, L. J., and Hatemi, P. K.. 2008. “Transmission of Attitudes toward Abortion and Gay Rights: Parental Socialization or Parental Mate Selection?Behavior Genetics 38: 247–56.
Edlin, A., Gelman, A., and Kaplan, N.. 2007. “Voting as a Rational Choice.” Rationality and Society 19 (3): 293314.
Eisenberger, N., Way, B., Taylor, S., Welch, W., and Lieberman, M.. 2007. “Understanding Genetic Risk to Aggression: Clues from the Brain's Response to Social Exclusion.” Biological Psychiatry 61: 1100–8.
Esarey, J., and Lawrence, J.. 2012. “Overconfidence in Testing of Interaction Hypotheses: Determining and Controlling the False Positive Rate.” Unpublished manuscript
Fowler, J. H. 2005. “Turnout in a Small World.” In The Social Logic of Politics: Family, Friends, Neighbors, and Workmates as Contexts for Political Behavior, ed. Zuckerman, A.. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 269–87.
Fowler, J. H. 2006a. “Altruism and Turnout.” Journal of Politics 68 (3): 674–83.
Fowler, J. H. 2006b. “Habitual Voting and Behavioral Turnout.” Journal of Politics 68 (2): 335–44.
Fowler, J. H., Baker, L. A., and Dawes, C. T.. 2008. “Genetic Variation in Political Participation.” American Political Science Review 102 (2): 233–48.
Fowler, J. H., and Dawes, C. T.. 2008. “Two Genes Predict Voter Turnout.” Journal of Politics 70 (3): 579–94.
Fowler, J. H., and Schreiber, D.. 2008. “Biology, Politics, and the Emerging Science of Human Nature.” Science 322 (5903): 912–14.
Gerber, A. S., Green, D. P., and Larimer, C. W.. 2008. “Social Pressure and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Large-scale Field Experiment.” American Political Science Review 102 (1): 3348.
Goldstein, K., and Freedman, P.. 2002. “Campaign Advertising and Voter Turnout: New Evidence for a Stimulation Effect.” Journal of Politics 64 (3): 721–40.
Hariri, A. R., et al. 2005. “A Susceptibility Gene for Affective Disorder and the Response of the Human Amygdala.” Archives of General Psychiatry 62: 146–52.
Hariri, A. R., Matty, V. S., Tessitore, A., Kolachana, B., Fera, F., and Goldman, D.. 2002. “Serotonin Transporter Genetic Variation and the Response of the Human Amygala.” Science 297: 400–3.
Hatemi, P. K., Alford, J. R., Hibbing, J. R., Martin, N. G., and Eaves, L. J.. 2009. “Is There a ‘Party’ in Your Genes?Political Research Quarterly 62 (3): 584600.
Hatemi, P. K., Dawes, C. T., Frost-Keller, A., Settle, J. E., and Verhulst, B.. 2011. “Integrating Social Science and Genetics: News from the Political Front.” Biodemography and Social Biology 57: 6787.
Hatemi, P. K., Funk, C., Medland, S. E., Maes, H. H., Martin, N. G., and Eaves, L. J.. 2009. “Genetic Influences on Social Attitudes over the Life Course.” Journal of Politics 71 (3): 1141–56.
Hatemi, P. K., Gillespie, N. A., et al. 2011. “A Genome-wide Analysis of Liberal and Conservative Political Attitudes.” Journal of Politics 73 (1): 271285.
Hatemi, P. K., Hibbing, J. R., et al. 2010. “Not by Twins Alone: Using the Extended Twin Family Design to Investigate the Genetic Basis of Political Beliefs.” American Journal of Political Science 54 (3): 798814.
Hatemi, P. K., McDermott, R., Bailey, J. M., and Martin, N. G.. 2012. “The Different Effects of Gender and Sex on Vote Choice.” Political Research Quarterly 65 (1): 7692.
Hatemi, P. K., Medland, S. E., and Eaves, L. J.. 2009. “Genetic Sources for the Gender Gap?Journal of Politics 71: 113.
Hatemi, P. K., Medland, S. E., Morley, K. I., Heath, A. C., and Martin, N. G.. 2007. “The Genetics of Voting: An Australian Twin Study.” Behavior Genetics 37: 435–48.
Heinz, A., et al. 2005. “Amygdala-Prefrontal Coupling Depends on a Genetic Variation of the Serotonin Transporter.” Nature Neuroscience 8: 2021.
Hewitt, J. K. 2012. “Editorial Policy on Candidate Gene Association and Candidate Gene-by-environment Interaction Studies of Complex Traits.” Behavior Genetics 42: 12.
Hu, X.-Z., et al. 2006. “Serotonin Transporter Promoter Gain-of-Function Genotypes Are Linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.” American Journal of Human Genetics 78: 815–26.
Ioannidis, J. 2005. “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” PLoS Medicine 2 (8): e124. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124.
Jackson, R. A., and Carsey, T. M.. 2007. “U.S. Senate Campaigns, Negative Advertising, and Voter Mobilization in the 1998 Midterm Election.” Electoral Studies 26 (1): 180–95.
Jankowski, Richard. 2007. “Altruism and the Decision to Vote: Explaining and Testing High Voter Turnout.” Rationality and Society 19 (1): 434.
Kan, K. H., and Yang, C. C.. 2001. “On Expressive Voting: Evidence from the 1988 US Presidential Election.” Public Choice 108 (3–4): 295312.
Karp, J. A., and Brockington, D.. 2005. “Social Desirability and Response Validity: A Comparative Analysis of Overreporting Voter Turnout in Five Countries.” Journal of Politics 67 (3): 825–40.
King, G. 1998. Unifying Political Methodology: The Likelihood Theory of Statistical Inference. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Klemmensen, R., Hatemi, P. K., Hobolt, S. B., Skytthe, A., and Nørgaard, A. S.. 2011. “Heritability in Political Interest and Efficacy across Cultures: Denmark and the United States.” Twin Research and Human Genetics 15 (1): 1520.
Knack, Stephen. 1991. “Social Altruism and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the 1991 NES Pilot Study.” 1991 NES Pilot Study Reports.
Koch, J. 1998. “The Perot Candidacy and Attitudes toward Government and Politics.” Political Research Quarterly 51 (1): 141–53.
Lande, R. 1980. “The Genetic Covariance between Characters Maintained by Pleiotropic Mutations.” Genetics 94: 203–15.
Littvay, L. 2012. “Do Heritability Estimates of Political Phenotypes Suffer from an Equal Environment Assumption Violation? Evidence from an Empirical Study.” Twin Research and Human Genetics 15 (1): 614.
Loewen, P. J., and Dawes, C. T.. 2012. “Heritability of Duty and Voter Turnout.” Political Psychology 33 (3): 363–73.
Lynch, M. 2010. “Rate, Molecular Spectrum, and Consequences of Human Mutation.” PNAS 107 (3): 961–68.
Mackay, T. F. 2001. “The Genetic Architecture of Quantitative Traits.” Annual Review of Genetics 35: 303–39.
Martin, N. G., et al. 1986. “Transmission of Social Attitudes.” PNAS 83 (12): 4364–68.
McDermott, R, et al. 2009. “Monoamine Oxidase A Gene (MAOA) Predicts Behavioral Aggression Following Provocation.” PNAS 106 (7): 2118–23.
McDermott, R. E., and Hatemi, P. K., ed. 2011. Man Is by Nature a Political Animal: Evolution, Biology, and Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Medland, S. E., and Hatemi, P. K.. 2008. “Political Science, Biometric Theory and Twin Studies: A Methodological Introduction.” Political Analysis 17 (2): 191214.
Meyer-Lindenberg, A., et al. 2006. ‘‘Neural Mechanisms of Genetic Risk for Impulsivity and Violence in Humans.’’ PNAS 103 (16): 6269–74.
Mondak, J. J., Hibbing, M. V., Canache, D., Seligson, M. A., and Anderson, M. R.. 2010. “Personality and Civic Engagement: An Integrative Framework for the Study of Trait Effects on Political Behavior.” American Political Science Review 104 (1): 126.
Murphy, D. L., and Lesch, K. P.. 2008. “Targetting the Murine Serotonin Transporter: Insights into Human Neurobiology.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9: 8596.
Norton, E., and Han, E.. 2008. “Genetic Information, Obesity, and Labor Market Outcomes.” Health Economics 17 (9): 10891104.
Olsen, M. E. 1972. “Social Participation and Voting Turnout: A Multivariate Analysis.” American Sociological Review 37 (3): 317–33.
Oxley, D. R., et al. 2008. “Political Attitudes Vary with Physiological Traits.” Science 321 (5896): 1667–70.
Pearson, T., and Manolio, T.. 2008. “How to Interpret a Genome-wide Association Study.” Journal of the American Medical Association 299 (11): 1335–44.
Plomin, Robert. 2008. Behavioral Genetics. 5th ed. New York: Worth Publishers.
Price, A., et al. 2009. “The Impact of Divergence Time on the Nature of Population Structure: An Example from Iceland.” PLoS Genetics 5 (6): 110.
Rhee, S. H., and Waldman, I. D.. 2002. “Genetic and Environmental Influence on Antisocial Behavior: A Meta-analysis of Twin and Adoption Studies.” Psychological Bulletin 128: 90529.
Risch, N., et al. 2009. “Interaction between the Serotonin Transporter Gene (5-HTTLPR), Stressful Life Events, and Risk of Depression: A Meta-analysis.” Journal of the American Medical Association 301: 2462–71.
Sallach, D. L., Babchuk, N., and Booth, A.. 1972. “Social Involvement and Political Activity: Another View.” Social Science Quarterly 52 (March): 7992.
Schwanhäusser, B. R. J., et al. 2011. “Global Quantification of Mammalian Gene Expression Control.” Nature 473 (7347): 337–42.
Settle, J. E., Dawes, C. T., Christakis, N. A., and , J. H. Fowler. 2010. “Friendships Moderate an Association between a Dopamine Gene Variant and Political Ideology.” Journal of Politics 72 (4): 1189–98.
Settle, J. E., Dawes, C. T., and Fowler., J. H. 2009. “The Heritability of Partisan Attachment.” Political Research Quarterly 62 (3): 601–13.
Smith, K. B., Alford, J. R., Hatemi, P. K., Eaves, L. J., Funk, C., and Hibbing, J. R.. 2012. “Biology, Ideology and Epistemology: How Do We Know Political Attitudes Are Inherited and Why Should We Care?American Journal of Political Science 56 (1): 1733.
Smith, K. B., and Hatemi, P. K.. 2012. “OLS is AOK for ACE: A Regression-based Approach to Synthesizing Political Science and Behavioral Genetics Models.” Political Behavior. doi: 10.1007/s11109–012-9192–2.
Smolen, A., and Hewitt, J. K.. 2003. “Biomarkers in Wave III of the Add Health Study.” Technical Report, National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
Smolen, A., et al. 2012. “Add Health Wave IV Documentation Report: Candidate Genes” Technical Report, National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
Speliotes, E. K., et al. 2010. “Association Analyses of 249,796 Individuals Reveal 18 New Loci Associated with Body Mass Index.” Nature Genetics 42: 937–48.
Stam, A. C., Von Hagen-Jamar, A. and Worthington, A. B. H.. 2012. “Fear and Attitudes towards Torture and Preventive War.” Twin Research and Human Genetics 15 (1): 6070.
Timpone, R. J. 1998. “Ties that Bind - Measurement, Demographics, and Social Connectedness.” Political Behavior 20 (1): 5377.
Verhulst, B. 2012. “Integrating Classical and Contemporary Explanations of Political Participation.” Twin Research and Human Genetics 15 (1): 4251.
Verhulst, B., & Estabrook, R.. 2012. “Using Genetic Information to Test Causal Relationships in Cross-Sectional Data.” Journal of Theoretical Politics 24 (3): 328–44.
Verhulst, B., Hatemi, P. K., and Eaves, L. J.. 2012a. “Covariation Not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies.” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1): 3451.
Verhulst, B., Hatemi, P. K., and Eaves, L. J.. 2012b. “Disentangling the Importance of Psychological Predispositions and Social Constructions in the Organization of American Political Ideology.” Political Psychology 33 (3): 375–93.
Verhulst, B., Hatemi, P. K., and Martin, N. G.. 2010. “The Nature of the Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Attitudes.” Personality and Individual Differences 49: 306–16.
Vinkhuyzen, A. A. E., et al. 2012. “Common SNPs Explain Some of the Variation in the Personality Dimensions of Neuroticism and Extraversion.” Translational Psychiatry 2: e102. doi:10.1038/tp.2012.27.
Visscher, P. M., et al. 2006. “Assumption-Free Estimation of Heritability from Genome-wide Identity-by-descent Sharing between Full Siblings.” PLoS Genetics 2: e41.
Visscher, P. M., Brown, M. A., McCarthy, M. I., and Yang, J.. 2012. “Five Years of GWAS Discovery.” American Journal of Human Genetics 90: 724.
Weber, C., Johnson, M., and , K. Arceneaux. 2011. “Genetics, Personality, and Group Identity.” Social Science Quarterly, 92 (5): 1314–37.
Wilson, E. O. (1998). Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. New York: Knopf.
Xu, H., and Shete, S.. 2006. “Mixed-effects Logistic Approach for Association Following Linkage Scan for Complex Disorders.” Annals of Human Genetics 71: 230–37.
Yang, J., et al. 2010. “Common SNPs Explain a Large Proportion of the Heritability for Human Height.” Nature Genetics 42 (7): 565–69.
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

FOWLER and DAWES
Appendix

 PDF (207 KB)
207 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed