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Could Your Genes Influence How You Vote?
Date:8/27/2012

By Carina Storrs
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- With the U.S. presidential campaign season heating up and Election Day drawing nearer, political science experts are saying that campaigns could one day benefit from having a deeper understanding of voters, all the way down to their DNA.

"Since about 2005, there has been a turning of the tide that genes can influence political traits," said Peter Hatemi, an associate professor of political science, microbiology and biochemistry at Pennsylvania State University.

"Most social scientists had viewed the world as a blank slate, whatever your family is, whatever you run into and your experiences, is how you develop your attitudes," he added.

Research into the genetic underpinnings of political views has grown significantly in the past eight years, Hatemi said. His comprehensive review of previous research on the role genes play in attitudes, ideologies and voting behavior, is co-authored by Rose McDermott, a professor of political science at Brown University, and appears online Aug. 27 in Trends in Genetics.

Political scientists have borrowed pages from the geneticists' book of techniques for studying medicine and psychology, but it may be how political scientists are using these approaches that will have the biggest impact on public health.

"The world revolves around politics, it doesn't revolve around schizophrenia. It's important to study because the biggest determinant of public health is going to be politics," Hatemi said.

One technique in particular involves studying identical and fraternal twins. Researchers can compare how often identical twins, who share all of their genes, and fraternal twins, who share half their genes on average, give the same answers to political questions to gauge how big of a role genes play in different categories.

Hatemi and McDermott reviewed previous twin studies and reported that
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