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Your Political Opinions Might Be Genetic

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Aired 5/5/09

A UCSD professor says liberal or conservative politics might run in your family.

— A UCSD professor says liberal or conservative politics might run in your family. KPBS Reporter Tom Fudge explains.

Experts may say that our political opinions are the result of social or material motives. But political science professor James Fowler says genes are a factor as well. Fowler's research argues that people who have a certain dopamine receptor are more likely to be liberal. It's the same receptor that's been associated with novelty-seeking behavior. But Fowler says this genetic variant only affects the politics of certain people.

"It's not the case that you get this gene and you're going to be a liberal. This gene has an impact on how we interact with the environment," he says.

He says the liberal gene only works if you have a lot of friends with a range of opinions. Fowler says his study tends to show liberals are more open-minded. But he quickly points out that similar studies have found conservatives are more likely to be conscientious. Tom Fudge, KPBS News.

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