Genes, Personality Traits, and the Sense of Civic Duty

Aaron C. Weinschenk, Christopher T. Dawes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Political scientists have long known that the sense of civic duty is one of the strongest predictors of individual voter turnout, yet scholars are only just starting to study and understand the origins of this orientation. Recent genopolitics research has indicated that the sense of civic duty is heritable, and recent research in political psychology has illustrated that individual personality traits, many of which have a heritable component, shape feelings of civic obligation. In this article, we link these two lines of inquiry to better understand how individual differences shape the sense of civic duty. More specifically, we explore the relationship between personality traits, measured using the Big Five model; genes; and the sense of civic duty. We show that genetic factors account for between 70% and 87% of the correlation between civic duty and four of the Big Five personality traits. Overall, the results presented here expand our understanding of the process through which prosocial orientations, such as civic duty, are formed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)47-76
    Number of pages30
    JournalAmerican Politics Research
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


    • Big Five
    • civic duty
    • genes
    • genopolitics
    • personality traits
    • prosocial
    • voter turnout

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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