The Influence of Major Life Events on Economic Attitudes in a World of Gene-Environment Interplay

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The role of "genes" on political attitudes has gained attention across disciplines. However, person-specific experiences have yet to be incorporated into models that consider genetic influences. Relying on a gene-environment interplay approach, this study explicates how life events, such as losing one's job or suffering a financial loss, influence economic policy attitudes. The results indicate genetic and environmental variance on support for unions, immigration, capitalism, socialism, and property tax is moderated by financial risks. Changes in the magnitude of genetic influences, however, are temporary. After two years, the phenotypic effects of the life events remain on most attitudes, but changes in the sources of individual differences do not. Univariate twin models that estimate the independent contributions of genes and environment on the variation of attitudes appear to provide robust baseline indicators of the sources of individual differences. These estimates, however, are not event or day specific. In this way, genetic influences add stability, while environment cues change, and this process is continually updated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-1007
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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