Genetic and Environmental Transmission of Ideology and Political Participation in a Post-Communist Country: A Hungarian Twin Study

Departmental Seminar
Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 1:30pm
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Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 1:30pm to 3:10pm

The Department of Political Science cordially invites you to the next lecture in the series of Departmental Seminars

"Genetic and Environmental Transmission of Ideology and Political Participation in a Post-Communist Country: A Hungarian Twin Study"

delivered by 

Levente Littvay

Time and Date: 13.30-15.10, December 6, 2012

Venue: Faculty Tower Room #908, CEU

Abstract: Behavior genetic approaches are becoming increasingly popular in political science. Many studies, to date, used a classical twin design to explore both political participation and ideological self placement in Western democracies but studies in different political contexts, such as post communist countries, are scarce. This paper is the first to explore the heritability of ideology and political participation in a post communist country: Hungary. A small sample of twins (from 58 monozygotic families with 38 complete pairs, 19 same sex and 7 opposite sex dizygotic families with 12 complete same sex and 6 complete opposite sex pairs) answered political questions in late January of 2012. Given the small sample extensive assessment of model assumptions is presented and show no cause for concern. Findings on participation match the Western results of high and significant heritability (72.2% with 95% CI: 41.4% 89.9% and no shared environmental effects within the 95% CI). The picture is quite different for the ideological measures where moderate and significant effect of both heritability and socialization was regularly found in the West. In the post communist context socialization appears to play a more prominent role and ideology does not seem to be genetically transmitted. Individual differences in liberal conservative self placement is 66.5% driven by environmental effects shared by both twins (CI: 45.1% 81.9%) with no heritable effect found within the 95% confidence interval. The same estimate for left right self placement is 68.1% (CI: 46.9% 85.1%) with heritability estimated at 0% with 5.5% as the upper CI bound. Based on the Cholesky decomposition of the two ideological measures, 87.3% of the correlation, r=0.536 (95% CI: 0.256 0.731), appears to be driven by the shared environmental sources. Findings further highlight that behavior genetic findings are heavily context dependent. The study discusses the possible causes driving the different findings in the Western and post communist political contexts.  (And if I may ad, this last sentence is where I need lots of feedback.  If you are familiar with Hungarian politics in the communist and post communist context, your feedback is greatly appreciated.)