Sociopolitical Attitudes Through the Lens of Behavioral Genetics: Contributions from Dr Nicholas Martin. Academic Article uri icon


  • Professor Nicholas (Nick) Martin spearheaded initial investigations into the genetic basis of political attitudes and behaviors, demonstrating that behaviors that are perceived as socially constructed could have a biological basis. As he showed, the typical mode of inheritance for political attitudes consists of approximately equal proportions of variance from additive genetic, shared environmental and unique environmental sources. This differs from other psychological variables, such as personality traits, which tend to be characterized by genetic and unique environmental sources of variation. By treating political attitudes as a model phenotype, Nick Martin was able to leverage the unique pattern of observed intergenerational transmission for political attitudes to reexamine the quintessential assumptions of the classical twin model. Specifically, by creatively leveraging the nuances of the genetic architecture of political attitudes, he was able to demonstrate the robustness of the equal environments assumption and suggest corrections to account for assortative mating. These advances have had a substantial impact on both the fields of political science, as well as behavioral and quantitative genetics.

published proceedings

  • Twin Res Hum Genet

author list (cited authors)

  • Verhulst, B.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Verhulst, Brad

publication date

  • April 2020