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Genetic Politics Roundup

March 21, 2008

Researchers study the views of identical twins to investigate whether genetics plays a role in political preferences.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Can genes shape your politics? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Identical twins are more likely to share political views than are fraternal twins, according to Rice University political scientist John Alford. He said that in one study, 80% of identical twins shared beliefs about property taxes, compared with 65% of fraternal twins. Alford says the studies indicate that genetics is partly responsible for our political beliefs and attitudes.

In related research, Scottish and Australian scientists report that happiness is also partly genetic. Also using twins studies, they found that certain inherited personality traits give some people a reserve of happiness they can draw upon in tough times. They estimate that about fifty percent of the difference in happiness in people is caused by genetics. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.