Genetics and the development of social attitudes


WHATEVER the current norms might be with regard to public opinion about various issues, and whatever factors contribute to their change with time, attitudes are far from uniform. Eysenck1 has shown how responses to a public opinion questionnaire could be resolved into two main factors: ‘radicalism’ (R) against ‘conservatism’ and ‘toughmindedness’ (T) against ‘tendermindedness’. Individual differences in opinion are, to some degree, the social manifestation of individual differences in personality. Significant covariation has been detected between various measures of extraversion (E) and T. Wilson2 has suggested personality correlates of R. Such relationships, together with available evidence for the genetic determination of personality differences (see, for example, ref. 3), justify a more penetrating analysis of the extent to which variation in opinion and personality share a common genetic basis.

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EAVES, L., EYSENCK, H. Genetics and the development of social attitudes. Nature 249, 288–289 (1974).

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