The heritability of partisan attachment

Jaime E. Settle, Christopher T. Dawes, James H. Fowler

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    One of the strongest regularities in the empirical political science literature is the well-known correlation in parent and child partisan behavior. Until recently, this phenomenon was thought to result solely from parental socialization, but new evidence on genetic sources of behavior suggests it might also be due to heritability. In this article, the authors hypothesize that genes contribute to variation in a general tendency toward strength of partisanship. Using data collected at the Twins Days Festival, the authors compare the similarity of partisan strength in identical twins who share all of their genes to the similarity of partisan strength in nonidentical twins who share only half of their genes. The results show that heritability accounts for almost half of the variance in strength of partisan attachment, suggesting we should pay closer attention to the role of biology in the expression of important political behaviors.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)601-613
    Number of pages13
    JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 2009


    • Political methodology
    • Political psychology
    • Public opinion and political participation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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