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The position people occupy in their social and professional networks is related to their social status and has strong effects on their access to social resources. While attainment of particular positions is driven by behavioral traits, many biological factors predispose individuals to certain behaviors and motivations. Prior work on exposure to fetal androgens (measured by second-to-fourth digit ratio, 2D:4D) shows that it correlates with behaviors and traits related to social status, which might make people more socially integrated. However, it also predicts certain anti-social behaviors and disorders associated with lower socialization. We explore whether 2D:4D correlates with network position later in life and find that individuals with low 2D:4D become more central in their social environment. Interestingly, low 2D:4D males are more likely to exhibit high betweenness centrality (they connect separated parts of the social structure), while low 2D:4D females are more likely to exhibit high in-degree centrality (more people name them as friends). These gender-specific differences are reinforced by transitivity (the likelihood that one's friends are also friends with one another): neighbors of low 2D:4D men tend not to know each other; the contrary is observed for low 2D:4D women. Our results suggest that biological predispositions influence the organization of human societies and that exposure to prenatal androgens influences different status seeking behaviors in men and women.
How does living in a battleground state during a presidential election affect an individual’s political engagement? We utilize a unique collection of 113 million Facebook status updates to compare users’ political discussion during the 2008 election. “Battleground” state users are significantly more likely to discuss politics in the campaign season than are users in uncompetitive “blackout” states. Posting a political status update—a form of day-to-day engagement with politics—mediates ∼20 percent of the relationship between exposure to political competition and self-reported voter turnout. This paper is among the first to use a massive quantity of social media data to explain the microfoundations of how people think, feel, and act on a daily basis in response to their political environment.
Why do some decision makers prefer big multilateral agreements while others prefer cooperation in small clubs? Does enforcement encourage or deter institutional cooperation? We use experiments drawn from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology—along with a substantive survey focused on international trade—to illustrate how two behavioral traits (patience and strategic reasoning) of individuals who play key roles in negotiating and ratifying an international treaty shape their preferences for how treaties are designed and whether they are ratified. Patient subjects were more likely to prefer treaties with larger numbers of countries (and larger long-term benefits), as were subjects with the skill to anticipate how others will respond over multiple iterations of strategic games. The presence of an enforcement mechanism increased subjects' willingness to ratify treaties; however, strategic reasoning had double the effect of adding enforcement to a trade agreement: more strategic subjects were particularly likely to favor ratifying the agreement. We report these results for a sample of 509 university students and also show how similar patterns are revealed in a unique sample of ninety-two actual US policy elites. Under some conditions certain types of university student convenience samples can be useful for revealing elite-dominated policy preferences—different types of people in the same situation may prefer to approach decision-making tasks and reason through trade-offs in materially different ways.
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.
Models of political participation have begun to incorporate actors who possess “social preferences.” However, these models have failed to take into account the potentially incongruent political goals of different social preference types. These goals are likely to play an important role in shaping political behavior. To examine the effect of distinct social preferences on political activity we conducted an experiment in which participants played five rounds of a modified dictator game (Andreoni and Miller2002). We used the decisions in these games to determine their preference type and mapped these types to reported political activity. Our results show that subjects who were most interested in increasing total welfare in the dictator game were more likely to participate in politics than subjects with selfish preferences, whereas subjects most interested in reducing the difference between their own well-being and the well-being of others were no more likely to participate than subjects with selfish preferences.
Scholars in many fields have long noted the importance of social context in the development of political ideology. Recent work suggests that political ideology also has a heritable component, but no specific gene variant or combination of variants associated with political ideology have so far been identified. Here, we hypothesize that individuals with a genetic predisposition toward seeking out new experiences will tend to be more liberal, but only if they are embedded in a social context that provides them with multiple points of view. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we test this hypothesis by investigating an association between self-reported political ideology and the 7R variant of the dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4), which has previously been associated with novelty seeking. Among those with DRD4-7R, we find that the number of friendships a person has in adolescence is significantly associated with liberal political ideology. Among those without the gene variant, there is no association. This is the first study to elaborate a specific gene-environment interaction that contributes to ideological self-identification, and it highlights the importance of incorporating both nature and nurture into the study of political preferences.
We examine the social network structure of Congress from 1973 to 2004. We treat two Members of Congress as directly linked if they have cosponsored at least one bill together. We then construct explicit networks for each year using data from all forms of legislation, including resolutions, public and private bills, and amendments. We show that Congress exemplifies the characteristics of a “small world” network and that the varying small-world properties during this time period are related to the number of important bills passed.
Previous studies have found that both political orientations (Alford, Funk, and Hibbing2005) and voting behavior (Fowler, Baker, and Dawes2008; Fowler and Dawes2008) are significantly heritable. In this article we study genetic variation in another important political behavior: partisan attachment. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show that individuals with the A2 allele of the D2 dopamine receptor gene are significantly more likely to identify as a partisan than those with the A1 allele. Further, we find that this gene's association with partisanship also mediates an indirect association between the A2 allele and voter turnout. These results are the first to identify a specific gene that may be partly responsible for the tendency to join political groups, and they may help to explain correlation in parent and child partisanship and the persistence of partisan behavior over time.
Fowler, Baker, and Dawes (2008) recently showed in two independent studies of twins that voter turnout has very high heritability. Here we investigate two specific genes that may contribute to variation in voting behavior. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show that individuals with a polymorphism of the MAOA gene are significantly more likely to have voted in the 2004 presidential election. We also find evidence that an association between a polymorphism of the 5HTT gene and voter turnout is moderated by religious attendance. These are the first results ever to link specific genes to political behavior.
Stephen Colbert hosts a comedy television program called The Colbert Report (the t at the end is silent—both of them!) in which he parodies personality-based news shows like The O'Reilly Factor that have become popular during the last 10 years. In an effort to make fun of these (usually conservative) personalities who engage in non-stop self-promotion, Colbert frequently trades outlandish claims for laughs. Among these is the claim that anyone who comes on the Report receives the “Colbert bump,” immediately vaulting the guest to stardom, fame, and fortune. Like Midas turning everything he touches to gold, Stephen Colbert can turn losers into winners, just by interviewing them on his show (but, ahem, he would never actually interview a loser now would he?).
The decision to vote has puzzled scholars for decades. Theoretical models predict little or no variation in participation in large population elections and empirical models have typically accounted for only a relatively small portion of individual-level variance in turnout behavior. However, these models have not considered the hypothesis that part of the variation in voting behavior can be attributed to genetic effects. Matching public voter turnout records in Los Angeles to a twin registry, we study the heritability of political behavior in monozygotic and dizygotic twins. The results show that a significant proportion of the variation in voting turnout can be accounted for by genes. We also replicate these results with data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and show that they extend to a broad class of acts of political participation. These are the first findings to suggest that humans exhibit genetic variation in their tendency to participate in political activities.
Prospect theory scholars have identified important human decision-making biases, but they have been conspicuously silent on the question of the origin of these biases. Here we create a model that shows preferences consistent with prospect theory may have an origin in evolutionary psychology. Specifically, we derive a model from risk-sensitive optimal foraging theory to generate an explanation for the origin and function of context-dependent risk aversion and risk-seeking behavior. Although this model suggests that human cognitive architecture evolved to solve particular adaptive problems related to finding sufficient food resources to survive, we argue that this same architecture persists and is utilized in other survival-related decisions that are critical to understanding political outcomes. In particular, we identify important departures from standard results when we incorporate prospect theory into theories of spatial voting and legislator behavior, international bargaining and conflict, and economic development and reform.
Social scientists have long been interested in how academic disciplines are organized (Ben-David and Collins 1966; Kuhn 1970; Lipset 1994; Rojas 2003; Somit and Tanenhaus 1964; 1967). One important element of this organization is the network of Ph.D. placements among Ph.D.-granting institutions. Various authors have linked the structure of placements to prestige rankings of departments (for sociology departments see e.g., Hanneman 2001; and Burris 2004; for political science departments see Masuoka, Grofman, and Feld 2007c), or have used various features of the structure of academic exchange networks to examine the shaping of disciplinary careers and practices (Feld, Bisciglia, and Ynalvez 2003; Masuoka, Grofman, and Feld 2007b). There is also a more general literature on status and market exchange (see e.g., Podolny 2005).We are indebted to Clover Behrend-Gethard for bibliographic assistance.
Scholars have recently extended the traditional calculus of participation model by adding a term for benefits to others. We advance this work by distinguishing theoretically a concern for others in general (altruism) from a concern for others in certain groups (social identification). We posit that both concerns generate increased benefits from participation. To test these theories, we use allocations in dictator games towards an unidentified anonymous recipient and two recipients identified only as a registered Democrat or a registered Republican. These allocations permit a distinction between altruism and social identification. The results show that both altruism and social identification significantly increase political participation. The results also demonstrate the usefulness of incorporating benefits that stem from sources beyond material self-interest into rational choice models of participation.
We construct the complete network of 26,681 majority opinions written by the U.S. Supreme Court and the cases that cite them from 1791 to 2005. We describe a method for using the patterns in citations within and across cases to create importance scores that identify the most legally relevant precedents in the network of Supreme Court law at any given point in time. Our measures are superior to existing network-based alternatives and, for example, offer information regarding case importance not evident in simple citation counts. We also demonstrate the validity of our measures by showing that they are strongly correlated with the future citation behavior of state courts, the U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. In so doing, we show that network analysis is a viable way of measuring how central a case is to law at the Court and suggest that it can be used to measure other legal concepts.
The Southern California Twin Register was initiated in 1984 at the University of Southern California, and continues to grow. This article provides an update of the register since it was described in the 2002 special issue of this journal. The register has expanded considerably in the past 4 years, primarily as a result of recent access to Los Angeles County birth records and voter registration databases. Currently, this register contains nearly 5000 twin pairs, the majority of whom are school age. The potential for further expansion in adult twins using voter registration records is also described. Using the Los Angeles County voter registration database, we can identify a large group of individuals with a high probability of having a twin who also resides in Los Angeles County. In addition to describing the expansion of register, this article provides an overview of an ongoing investigation of 605 twin pairs who are participating in a longitudinal study of behavioral problems during childhood and adolescence. Characteristics of the twins and their families are presented, indicating baseline rates of conduct problems, depression and anxiety disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder diagnoses which are comparable to nontwins in this age range.
Using large-scale network analysis I map the cosponsorship networks of all 280,000 pieces of legislation proposed in the U.S. House and Senate from 1973 to 2004. In these networks, a directional link can be drawn from each cosponsor of a piece of legislation to its sponsor. I use a number of statistics to describe these networks such as the quantity of legislation sponsored and cosponsored by each legislator, the number of legislators cosponsoring each piece of legislation, the total number of legislators who have cosponsored bills written by a given legislator, and network measures of closeness, betweenness, and eigenvector centrality. I then introduce a new measure I call “connectedness” which uses information about the frequency of cosponsorship and the number of cosponsors on each bill to make inferences about the social distance between legislators. Connectedness predicts which members will pass more amendments on the floor, a measure that is commonly used as a proxy for legislative influence. It also predicts roll call vote choice even after controlling for ideology and partisanship.
Scholars have recently reworked the traditional calculus of voting model by adding a term for benefits to others. Although the probability that a single vote affects the outcome of an election is quite small, the number of people who enjoy the benefit when the preferred alternative wins is large. As a result, people who care about benefits to others and who think one of the alternatives makes others better off are more likely to vote. I test the altruism theory of voting in the laboratory by using allocations in a dictator game to reveal the degree to which each subject is concerned about the well-being of others. The main findings suggest that variation in concern for the well-being of others in conjunction with strength of party identification is a significant factor in individual turnout decisions in real world elections. Partisan altruists are much more likely to vote than their nonpartisan or egoist peers.
Bendor, Diermeier, and Ting (2003) develop a behavioral alternative to rational choice models of turnout. However, the assumption they make about the way individuals adjust their probability of voting biases their model towards their main result of significant turnout in large populations. Moreover, the assumption causes individuals to engage in casual voting (sometimes people vote and sometimes they abstain). This result is at odds with a substantial literature that indicates most people engage in habitual voting (they either always vote or always abstain). I develop an alternative model to show how feedback in the probability adjustment mechanism affects the behavioral model. The version of this model without feedback yields both high turnout and habitual voting.