Did you vote for Obama in 2008?
You may have been genetically predisposed to do so -- that is, if a new study is to be believed.
New research suggests a person is more likely to be liberal if they have a specific variant of DRD4, aka the liberal gene, and -- this is crucial -- they had a lot of friends in adolescence.
In other words, liberals can take comfort knowing that their conservative rivals were friendless losers growing up.
Just kidding! The study says absolutely nothing of the sort. That was just some silly twisting of the facts I did to amuse myself. Now back to the study:
DRD4 had previously been linked to "novelty-seeking" behavior. So, the authors of the new study took this idea one step further, linking the genetic information of 2,000 subjects to their individual social networks:
We hypothesize that individuals with a genetic predisposition toward seeking out new experiences will tend to be more liberal, but only if they are embedded in a social context that provides them with multiple points of view.
It's important to note that both factors are key: a variant of the gene and the environmental condition of having an active social adolescence.
What's interesting about this information is that, if true, it turns everything we assume about political leanings on its head. Namely, it suggests that ideology is not simply a product of our social environment: the family we grew up in, the communities we were a part of, religious influences, etc. Certainly those factors play a role in our political views, but DNA may have something to do with it as well.
In which case, liberals can't be held accountable for their political opinions -- because, really, there's nothing they can do about it!
So what should conservative parents do if they suspect their child has a variant of DRD4? The answer is obvious: Lock them in the closet until adolescence is over.
Image by CAVE CANEM/Flickr