The relationship between political attitudes and political participation: Evidence from monozygotic twins in the United States, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark

Aaron C. Weinschenk, Christopher T. Dawes, Sven Oskarsson, Robert Klemmensen, Asbjørn Sonne Nørgaard

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Many studies have shown that political efficacy, interest in politics, and political knowledge are strongly related to political participation. In most analyses, these variables are described as having a causal effect on participation. In this paper, we examine the extent to which the relationship between political attitudes and participation is confounded by familial factors. By using the discordant twin design, which relates within-pair differences in political attitudes to within-pair differences in political participation, we are able to examine the relationship net of confounding factors rooted in genes and the early rearing environment. Using four samples of monozygotic twins from the United States, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark, we find that the relationship between political attitudes and political participation is confounded to a large extent. This study makes an important contribution to the literature on political attitudes and political participation given the longstanding idea that attitudes cause political participation. Our findings also have practical implications for those interested in elevating levels of political participation. In addition, they have important implications for how scholars theorize about, model, and examine political participation in the future.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number102269
    JournalElectoral Studies
    Volume69
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Feb 2021

    Keywords

    • Discordant twin design
    • Monozygotic twins
    • Political attitudes
    • Political participation
    • Turnout

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Political Science and International Relations

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