Personal political ideology could be shaped by a combination of factors, including the number of friends one has during adolescence and whether or not a person posses a specific dopamine receptor gene.
A trio of University of California, San Diego researchers, in conjunction with a Harvard University participant, examined the subject in a research paper entitled Friendships Moderate an Association between a Dopamine Gene Variant and Political Ideology.
You’re likely to think that political leanings are influenced by parental units, but these researchers claim that evidence from recent studies indicate that “the mechanism by which parents pass their ideology to their children may in part be due to heredity, and that political attitudes themselves are genetically influenced.”
The paper argues that the dopamine receptor gene in question, 7R, a variant of the D4 gene (DRD4), “cannot by itself predispose someone to a liberal ideology,” but that “it requires a context in which people are exposed to certain social environments.”
The researchers explain:
… we hypothesize that the combination of an innate desire for novel experience and many friends may contribute to the activation of a liberal ideology. People who have many friends may nonetheless remain uninterested in their friends’ point of view. Alternatively, people who crave new experiences may not get them from their social context if they have only a few friends.
For people who lack the DRD4-7R gene variant, there was “no association” between the number of friendships as a youngster and political ideology, hence the researchers claim that political leanings are at least party hereditary.