Are conservatative or liberal political orientations genetic?

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  1. Ralph Deeds profile image65
    Ralph Deedsposted 10 years ago

    According to a recent article in the LA times research shows a relationship between a person's DNA and his or her political beliefs. The researchers found that positions on contentious issues like gun control, capital punishment, pacifism and the like are associated with physiological traits that are probably present at birth.

    According to the researchers at the University of Nebraska, the key is the differing levels of fear that people naturally feel. According to Professor James Fowler of U Cal, San Diego, "What is revolutionary about the research paper is that it shows the path from genes to physiology to behavior."

    The researchers whose findings were published recently in the journal Science, looked at 46 people (strikes me as quite a low number) who fell into two camps--liberals who supported foreign aid, immigration, pacifism and gun control, and conservatives who advocated defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism and the Iraq war.

    In an initial experiment, the subjects were shown a series of images that included a bloody face, maggots in a wound and a spider on a frightened face. A device measured the electrical conductance of their skin, a physiological reaction that indicates fear.

    In a second experiment, researchers measured eye blinks--another indicator of fear--as subjects responded to sudden blasts of noise.

    CONSERVATIVES READ THIS AND WEEP--COMPARED TO STAUNCH LIBERALS, PEOPLE WITH STRONGLY CONSERVATIVE VIEWS WERE THREE TIMES MORE FEARFUL after factoring out the effects of gender (I won't go there!), age, income and education, all of which can affect political attitudes.
    Kevin Smith of the U of Nebraska said conservatives were more vigilant to environmental threats and speculated this innate tendency led them to support policies that protect the social order

    Professor Fowler sasid the study added to the growing research suggesting that over millions of years (of evolution!) humans have developed two cognitive styles--conservative and liberal. Cautious conservatives prevented societies from taking undue risks (George Bush obviously is not a conservative!), while more flexible liberals fostered cooperation. "For the species to survive you need both," he said.

    [The story did not say whether the study was federally financed!]

    LA Times story by Denise Gellene in the Detroit News October 9, 2008.

  2. knolyourself profile image59
    knolyourselfposted 10 years ago

    People are always trying to prove we are nothing but machines. Right brain/left brain ....
    So if you have a house and you want to preserve it, as it is indefinitely, you are a conservative. If you want to demolish it and put in something say commercial, to make a financial killing, you are a progressive. Nothing genetic about it.

  3. Uninvited Writer profile image81
    Uninvited Writerposted 10 years ago

    I don't think so, my father was quite conservative and my mother really wasn't political at all. My sister is quite conservative too. I'm sort of the black sheep smile

    1. Ralph Deeds profile image65
      Ralph Deedsposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      I wasn't impressed much by the newspaper account of the study. The number of people studied was hardly enough for strong conclusions. And they didn't say how strong the correlation was. The study wouldn't be sufficient for getting a drug approved. Also, I know lots of liberal Democrats whose parents were Republicans and vice versa. And I like to think education and reason could overcome any genetic tendencies.


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