Twins Research Shows Genes Help Cast Your Vote

A new study out of the UK determined that an inclination to vote for certain parties has as much to do with nature as it does nurture.

Just in time for election season in the UK, a new study out of the Department of Twin Research at King's College London offers some results about how much one's decision for whom to vote can be influenced by nature rather than nurture. Drawing from the TwinsUK database, researchers polled groups of both identical and nonidentical twins to determine if anomalous patterns could be gleaned from their responses. Tim Spector, one of the researchers, wrote all about the experiment this week at The Conversation:


"Twins provide a unique natural experiment for research. Identical twins share 100% of their genes, while nonidentical twins — like non-twin siblings — share about 50%. Both identical and nonidentical twins normally share the same environment while growing up. By comparing the differences and similarities between them we can identify how much of a quirk, disease, or trait is due to a genetic predisposition or environmental and cultural factors. Because twin studies adjust for culture and upbringing, they are an ideal way to study political allegiances."

What the researchers found most interesting was that the decision to vote for certain parties — particularly those further to the right on the political spectrum — appears to be more highly influenced by genetics than one would suppose:

"We found that voting Conservative (or not) is strongly influenced by genetics. When it came to voting Tory, we found that 57% of the variability (differences or similarity) between people’s voting preferences were due to genetic effects. This percentage is called heritability. That means the identical twins were more likely to vote the same way than the nonidentical twins — suggesting an underlying genetic influence was stronger than environmental or random factors."

The variability rate for UKIP was about 52%; Labour and the Green Party were at 48%. Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, proved to be a major exception. The decision to vote for them appears to be completely environmental, which is to say genetics have little to no influence:

"Identical twins showed exactly the same level of disparity in preference for the Lib Dems as nonidentical twins. Geography also played a possible role — as voting for the SNP in Scotland was also completely environmental."

This new research fits well with previous studies, which also found that strong feelings toward right-wing politics — both in support of and against — are heavily influenced by genetics. Spector goes as far as to say that additional research suggests our genes have much more influence on our personalities than many of us would guess. Perhaps, compared to nurture, nature isn't yet getting the credit it deserves.

Read more at The Conversation.

Below, geneticist Bryan Sykes offers a basic lesson in genetics by comparing your genes to a deck of playing cards:

Photo credit: mrkornflakes / Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
popular

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less