Beyond liberals and conservatives to political genotypes and phenotypes

John R. Alford, Carolyn L. Funk, John R. Hibbing

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


In the past, most political scientists have been oblivious to the growing empirical evidence challenging environmental determinism. Professor Charney, apparently as a result of the fact that genes and the environment interact in a complex fashion, advocates that this passive unawareness be replaced by active denial. Science, however, does not advance by avoiding important relationships merely because they are complicated and, fortunately, science is not heeding Charney's ideologically-based fears. Molecular geneticists, often working in tandem with political scientists, are quickly moving beyond twin studies to identify the specific suites of genes and biological systems that predict variation in core political preferences, whatever labels those preferences might be given in a particular culture at a particular time. We sympathize with the fact that our empirical findings, like those of so many behavioral geneticists, make Charney uncomfortable; still, his critique serves up nothing new-empirically or otherwise. Just as analyses of the roots of sexual preferences cannot presumptively ignore genetics, neither can analyses of the roots of political preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-328
Number of pages8
JournalPerspectives on Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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