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A Single Gene May Determine Why You Vote The Way You Do (Medical Daily)

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by August 7, 2015 Politics

Is it possible that our political leanings are more biologically fixed than we think they are? According to new research published in the journal Proceedings B, your conservative or liberal leanings may be linked to your genes.

The study published by the National University of Singapore found that a specific variant of a gene, DRD4, known as the “adventure gene,” deals with our decision making, and possibly determining who we vote for. The gene has been studied in connection with human behavior, being one of the genes that determine the way dopamine, a chemical messenger, is released in the brain. Over 1,700 Chinese undergraduates were surveyed to find out their political leanings. Further, DNA and blood samples were taken alongside their surveys. The samples were then taken to a laboratory in order to be tested so that researchers could detect gene variants.

The results of the findings showed that specific variants were found to be different in liberals, with the variant of the gene associated with high-risk behaviors and attitudes, and conservatives, associated with low-risk behaviors and attitudes, wary of making changes. The conservative attitude was the one mostly attributable to women, according to the study.

“Our findings have shown that despite a country’s political system or even culture, political ideology is in part hardwired by our genes,” Chew Soo Hong, a co-author of the study and Professor of Economics at NUS, said in a statement.

This research follows past findings from scientists in the United States that showed how the DRD4 gene influences political leanings. However, that study was dependent on the participants’ social reality. The study from Singapore highlights the effect of our genes on our political attitudes.

Results of the study also found that trying to change political ideology is difficult because they are built into our genes and thus, make it difficult to change due to peer pressure. These findings suggest a different way of looking at women politically as a whole, particularly because of the rise in gender equality in American political discourse.

There is no way to be able to apply these findings in general because of the sample size, which is less than 2,000 participants and even less women as a whole. Additionally, the sample size is from a specific portion of the world, which may affect how those men and women see different political issues.

Much of political and social discussion has been concerned with how education, class, and upbringing affect political choices. This study highlights to us that science may have found that politics is more determinative than we think.

Source: Ebstein R, Monakhov M, Lu Y, et al. Association between the dopamine D4 receptor gene exon III variable number of tandem repeats and political attitudes in female Han Chinese. Proceedings B. 2015.

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