Political Behavior

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 383–408 | Cite as

OLS is AOK for ACE: A Regression-Based Approach to Synthesizing Political Science and Behavioral Genetics Models

  • Kevin B. Smith
  • Peter K. Hatemi
Original Paper


There is a growing interest in empirically exploring the biological underpinnings of political attitudes and behavior. Heritability studies are a primary vehicle for conducting such investigations and data sets rich in political phenotypes are becoming broadly accessible. A bottleneck exists, however, in exploiting these opportunities because they involve a statistical re-tooling for political scientists and require a conceptual shift that has substantial implications for the field’s traditional theoretical models. Methodologically, most twin studies rely on structural equation models unfamiliar to political scientists. We show this methodological bottleneck is easily navigable; it is the lesser discussed shift in theoretical assumptions poses the larger problem to integrating biological elements into the study of political attitudes and behavior. To address these issues we provide a detailed introduction to a regression-based method for analyzing genetic influence on political attitudes and behaviors that will be methodologically intuitive to political scientists with even minimum quantitative training. In doing so, we provide a platform for bridging important conceptual divides between political science and behavioral genetics.


Biology Political behavior Genetic research 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Nebraska–LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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