American Politics & Public Policy Workshop: Christopher Dawes, “Genes, Psychological Traits, and Voter Turnout”

Event time: 
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 5:00pm through 6:15pm
Event description: 

“Genes, Psychological Traits, and Voter Turnout”

Speaker: Christopher Dawes, Assistant Professor of Politics at New York University

Description: A growing body of evidence from twin and adoption studies suggests that genetic factors explain a substantial fraction of the variation in voter turnout.  In this study, I use a recently developed technique, called GREML, to estimate the fraction of voter turnout that is explained by the combined linear, additive effects of all common genetic variants.  Further, I explore the degree to which genetic and environmental factors explain the correlation between voter turnout and both personality traits and cognitive ability.

My estimates, based on a large genetically informed sample of Minnesota citizens, suggest that common genetic variants explain a similar proportion of the variance in validated voter turnout as estimates utilizing a twin design.  I also find evidence for both personality and cognitive ability of a shared genetic architecture with voter turnout.  These results help us to better understand the pathways through which genes may influence political participation.

Christopher Dawes is Assistant Professor of Politics at New York University.  His research focuses on identifying and clarifying sources of individual differences in political preferences and behaviors.

His research has been published in the Journal of Politics, Political Psychology, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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