On the genetic basis of political orientation

Christopher T. Dawes, Aaron C. Weinschenk

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Scholars have long been interested in the underpinnings of political ideology. Over the past fifteen years or so, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists, and economists have started to take seriously the idea that ideology might be influenced by genes. In this article, we review the literature on the genetics of ideology. We begin by describing twin studies and more sophisticated approaches that have now emerged, which consistently show that ideology is about 40% heritable. Next, we examine the state of research on genetic influences on ideology over the life cycle and mechanisms that could link genes and ideology. We conclude by discussing the preliminary genome-wide studies that have been conducted. Existing research has provided important insights into the link between biology and ideology, but additional research is needed in order to provide a more nuanced understanding of the role of biology in the formation of political ideology.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)173-178
    Number of pages6
    JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
    StatePublished - Aug 2020

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cognitive Neuroscience
    • Psychiatry and Mental health
    • Behavioral Neuroscience


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