Parental Transmission and the Importance of the (Noncausal) Effects of Education on Political Engagement: Missing the Forest for the Trees

Stig Hebbelstrup Rye Rasmussen, Aaron Weinschenk, Christopher T. Dawes, Jacob v.B. Hjelmborg, Robert Klemmensen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    By most accounts, an important prerequisite for a well-functioning democracy is engaged citizens. A very prominent explanation of variation in political engagement suggests that parental transmission through socialization accounts for individual-level differences in political engagement. In this paper, we show, using a large Danish twin survey (N = 2,071), that classic formulations of parental transmission theory can be supplemented by findings from the biopolitics literature, allowing us to disentangle when heritable factors are important and when socialization factors are important predictors of political engagement. We show that as the level of family politicization and consistency increases, the influence of genes decreases. We take this to imply that family socialization can compensate for (genetic) individual differences and foster increased political engagement. By only focusing on the “causal” effect of education, we are missing the forest for the trees.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - 2022

    Keywords

    • applied social psychology
    • behavior genetics
    • development

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Clinical Psychology

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