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Behavior Genetics

, 38:247 | Cite as

Transmission of Attitudes Toward Abortion and Gay Rights: Effects of Genes, Social Learning and Mate Selection

  • Lindon J. Eaves
  • Peter K. Hatemi
Original Paper

Abstract

The biological and social transmission of attitudes toward abortion and gay rights are analyzed in a large sample of adult twins, siblings, and their parents. We present a linear model for family resemblance allowing for both genetic and cultural transmission of attitudes from parents to offspring, as well as phenotypic assortative mating (the tendency to marry like) and other environmental sources of twin and sibling resemblance that do not depend on the attitudes of their parents. The model gives a close fit to the patterns of similarity between relatives for the two items. Results are consistent with a substantial role of genetic liability in the transmission of both attitudes. Contrary to the dominant paradigm of the social and political sciences, the kinship data are consistent with a relatively minor non-genetic impact of parental attitudes on the development of adult attitudes in their children. By contrast, the choice of mate is a social action that has a marked impact on the polarization of social attitudes and on the long-term influence that parents exert upon the next generation.

Keywords

Abortion Gay rights Assortative mating Political and social attitudes 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Data collection was conducted by Lindon Eaves, Nicholas Martin, Andrew Heath and Kenneth Kendler supported by grants AA-06781 and MH-40828 from the National Institutes of Health and a gift from RJR Nabisco. PKH is supported by MH-20030-09. We thank Hermine Maes for assistance with data management and Michael Neale for access to the Mx program for structural modeling. Model development and data analysis were supported by MH-068521. We thank Greg Carey for his careful and insightful reading of an earlier draft of this article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Human Genetics and PsychiatryVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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