Researchers find evidence of 'liberal gene'

By City News Service

Genetics may play a role in determining a person's political ideology, according to a study by researchers at UC San Diego and Harvard University released Wednesday.

Researchers identified a dopamine receptor gene, called DRD4, which they called the "liberal gene," that may predispose people to certain political views. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter affecting brain processes that control movement, emotional response and the ability to experience pleasure and pain.

In a study of 2,000 adolescents, researchers were able to show that people with a specific variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to be liberal as adults, but only if they had an active social life in youth.

Researchers led by UCSD's James H. Fowler theorized that people with the gene variant have more friends and therefore are more likely to be exposed to a wider variety of social norms and lifestyles, making them more liberal.

The report stated that "it is the crucial interaction of two factors — the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence — that is associated with being more liberal."

The findings held true regardless of ethnicity, culture, sex or age, according to the study.

The study was published in the latest edition of The Journal of Politics.

   
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