Social Justice Research

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 408–437 | Cite as

A Genetic Basis of Economic Egalitarianism

  • Nemanja Batrićević
  • Levente LittvayEmail author


Studies of political attitudes and ideologies have sought to explain their origin. They have been assumed to be a result of political values ingrained during the process of socialization until early adulthood, as well as personal political experience, party affiliation, social strata, etc. As a consequence of these environment-dominated explanations, most biology-based accounts of political preference have never been considered. However, in the light of evidence accumulated in recent years, the view that political attitudes are detached from any physical properties became unsustainable. In this paper, we investigate the origins of social justice attitudes, with special focus on economic egalitarianism and its potential genetic basis. We use Minnesota Twin Study data from 2008, collected from samples of monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs (n = 573) in order to estimate the additive genetic, shared environmental, and unique environmental components of social justice attitudes. Our results show that the large portion of the variance in a four-item economic egalitarianism scale can be attributed to genetic factor. At the same time, shared environment, as a socializing factor, has no significant effect. The effect of environment seems to be fully reserved for unique personal experience. Our findings further problematize a long-standing view that social justice attitudes are dominantly determined by socialization.


Social justice Equality Egalitarianism Genes Genetics Twin studies 



The data employed in this project were collected with the financial support of the National Science Foundation in the form of SES-0721378, PI: John R. Hibbing; Co-PIs: John R.Alford, Lindon J. Eaves, Carolyn L. Funk, Peter K. Hatemi, and Kevin B. Smith, and with the cooperation of the Minnesota Twin Registry at the University of Minnesota, Robert Krueger and Matthew McGue, Directors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Nemanja Batrićević declares that he has no conflict of interest. Levente Littvay declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central European UniversityBudapestHungary

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