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"Liberal gene" could turn social butterflies toward the political left

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Is your political outlook in your genes? Researchers have identified a gene variant that could predispose adolescents to becoming liberal adults — but only if they have an active social life.

An article published in the Journal of Politics looked at 2,000 subjects from the National Longitudinal Study
of Adolescent Health, examining their genes, social networks, and political affiliations. What they found was that adolescents who possess a certain variant of the dopamine receptor gene DRD4 were more likely to grow up to be liberal adults. Furthermore, that correlation only existed when adolescents had active social lives.


This particular variant has previously been linked with novelty seeking behavior. Lead researcher James H. Fowler of UC San Diego has speculated that the combination of the novelty-seeking and a broad social network tends to steer adolescents toward a liberal worldview:

[He] hypothesized that people with the novelty-seeking gene variant would be more interested in learning about their friends' points of view. As a consequence, people with this genetic predisposition who have a greater-than-average number of friends would be exposed to a wider variety of social norms and lifestyles, which might make them more liberal than average.


The research also indicated the popular kids with the DRD4 variant tended to be liberal independent of gender, ethnicity, culture, or class.

Researchers find a 'liberal gene' [PhysOrg]