Politics, and political leanings, are a big subject, especially as America prepares itself for an upcoming election. It isn't unheard of for an entire family line to decide to vote a certain way, or to be strongly supportive of either the Democratic or the Republican candidates. Did you ever wonder why that is so?Researchers have found that while there is definitely an environmental component involved in how a person decides to vote, there is also what is being referred to as a liberal gene.
According to an article in The Journal of Politics, which is published by Cambridge University Press, a study was done that involved 2,000 people from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. They studied each person's genetic makeup, and compared it with that person's social networks. The results showed that people who have a specific variation on the DRD4 gene were more likely to become liberal adults. However, this is only true if that person had an active social life when he or she was an adolescent.
In the past, this particular variant on the DRD4 gene was associated with novelty-seeking behavior. In short, people who have this gene variation tend to want to seek out new ideas and experiences. Why? It has to do with how they process dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls, among other things, the ability to experience pleasure and pain. So, you might say that people with this gene variant experience pleasure when exposed to things that are new to them, including new ideas.
What happens when something makes a person feel good? That person seeks to repeat the experience. This leads adolescents who have this gene variant to be interested in learning about their friend's points of view. The more friends a person has, the wider the variety of social norms and lifestyles he is exposed to. And, thanks to the DRD4 gene variation, the person will experience pleasure in learning about these different ideas. In short, this particular gene variation influences a person to become liberal, rather than conservative.