Men and women's political values are greatly affected by social class, family upbringing, education and, in a latest study, a specific variant of one gene.

The study segregated a number of participants into a cluster of either conservative or liberal leanings.

This specific gene variant is called DRD4 and is known to determine the way the crucial neurotransmitter dopamine is released into the brain.

The National University of Singapore conducted an experiment among 1,771 students of the Han Chinese descent and found a link between the DRD4 gene variant and the participants' political views, which divided them into conservatives whose minds are nowhere near the idea of change, and liberals fighting against inequality.

The researchers used surveys which included questions about political issues in the city-state, with the presence of a permutation of DRD4.

According to the study, which was led by Richard Ebstein of the National University of Singapore, "the association between political attitude and D4D4 was highly significant for females." This link was also seen but less in men. In addition, women were seen to be generally more conservative.

The survey had standard questionnaires that rate liberal or conservative tendencies. This helped the researchers compare data with earlier efforts to find a link between genes and attitudes. The researchers also devised questions about local issues that would divide their participants' political opinions.

Animal rights and environmental issues, for example, were brought up in the survey, asking the group of students comprised of 50 percent men and 50 percent women to take positions on the issues. These issues had a strong correlation with DRD4.

The study comes after a previous similar research conducted among participants of European descent, which took a look at the same gene and saw similar patterns around its participants' attitudes.

In 1999, a landmark study led researchers to trace a strain of heritability for conservatism in twins that have been separated near or at birth.

The findings of this latest study at the National University of Singapore led its researchers to say that "biology can't be ignored." 

Photo: William Murphy | Flickr

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