New study finds evidence that political ambition can be genetically inherited from one’s parent

first_imgShare Share on Facebook LinkedIn “A second reason why it is important to be better able to explain political behavior is of a more normative nature. It is often asserted that the essence of politics is power and power relationships. From this point of view, it is important to understand what explains why some citizens are more politically active than others. Put differently, a better understanding of the reasons for political participation is a precondition for creating a more equal society,” Oskarsson said.Statistics Sweden, a government agency, maintains a database called the Multi-Generation Register that contains information on the biological parents of individuals. The database includes 10,717,814 non-adopted individuals and 155,865 adopted individuals.The researchers analyzed this data, along with additional information regarding educational attainment, income, occupational status and political candidacy, to examine the intergenerational transmission of political behavior. Overall, the probability of being a political candidate was about 2.3%. But among adopted individuals whose biological parents were candidates, the probability of being a political candidate jumped up to about 5%.“A first take-home point is that there is a strong parent–child transmission in the tendency to run for office. If you have a parent that ran for office, there is a much higher likelihood that you will also stand as a political candidate as an adult,” Oskarsson told PsyPost.“Second, and more importantly, this intergenerational transmission in political candidacy status reflects both social and genetic factors. We used a sample of adopted children and their biological and adoptive parents to investigate this.”“The results clearly suggest that having a biological parent who ran for office is a good predictor of the adoptee’s probability of running for office as adults, despite the fact that these children were adopted away early in life and have had no contact with their birth parents ever since. However, the results also indicate that adoptive parents’ political activity is a major source of intergenerational resemblance,” Oskarsson said.All scientific research includes some limitations — and this study is no exception.“Like other recent studies on the heritability of complex human behaviors this study takes a first important step by showing that political candidacy is caused by both social and genetic factors. However, it is even more important to take further steps and investigate how social and political traits are shaped by the interplay between genes and environment,” Oskarsson explained.“They arise when the type or magnitude of the effect of a genetic factor depends on the environmental conditions in which it is expressed. In our case we can suspect, for example, that a predisposition toward political engagement may only matter under the right environmental circumstances. However, the knowledge of how these so called gene-by-environment interactions actually work is currently limited: what genetic factors interact with what social, economic and political factors, and how?”The findings indicate that political candidacy may be a genetically influenced trait. However, any genetic influence is just one factor among many that contribute to an individual’s decision to run for public office.“It is important to note that our results do not signal genetic determinism. Our finding that biological parents’ behavior is a strong predictor of political candidacy among adoptees does not mean that there is direct causal link between a set of genetic factors and an individual’s propensity to run for office. Any genetic effect on a complex behavior such as running for office will undoubtedly be mediated by a large set of factors, some of which are malleable,” Oskarsson added.“It is also important to stress that omitting the genetic part of intergenerational transmission – that is, failing to take into account that we are not only raised by our parents, but we also inherit a combination of their DNA – neglects an integral part of the explanation of social and political traits because genetic differences between individuals not only add to social and environmental influences but also co-vary and interact with them in complex ways.”“Consequently, considering genetic influences by no means negates social influences, but rather provides an additional layer of explanation that can substantially improve our understanding of how they work. As such, it can also aid in developing more effective policies that deal with the social roots and consequences of social and political inequality,” Oskarsson said.The study, “It Runs in the Family: A Study of Political Candidacy Among Swedish Adoptees“, was authored by Sven Oskarsson, Christopher T. Dawes, and Karl-Oskar Lindgren. A new study on Swedish adoptees suggests that political candidacy is a heritable trait. The research, which appears in the journal Political Behavior, found that the likelihood of standing as a political candidate doubled if one’s parent had been a candidate.“My research interest in general concerns how human behavior, especially political behavior, is formed by the interplay between social and genetic factors,” explained study author Sven Oskarsson of Uppsala University and the Uppsala Center for Labor Studies.“A better understanding of these basic causes of differences in political behavior is fundamental for at least two reasons. The first is that politics and political activity is something that in a deeper sense is a characteristic of us as a species. Humans are, to quote Aristotle, political animals by nature. This means that a deeper understanding of how we think and act in political contexts is an important part of our understanding of ourselves.”center_img Email Pinterest Share on Twitterlast_img read more

My digital life: Mark Bew

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Harvard admissions investigation prompts mixed reactions from Asian-American students

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) —  To achieve an exceptional college application has become seemingly more and more difficult — at least for certain groups of students. Ben Huynh, a Vietnamese-American born to immigrant parents and raised in Chicago, received a 2400 on his SAT, had perfect grades, held leadership positions and was very involved in his passion for music, all elements of an impeccable application by most standards. With his outstanding résumé, one would expect him to get into at least one of his top schools, but was rejected from most of them, including Harvard. “I was a little disappointed,” Huynh said, adding he never once blamed under-represented minorities as part of the problem. Despite his initial frustration, he said he remains a firm advocate of affirmative action. Though flawed, he said, the policy provides a level of balance that plays only a part in what is a complex and multifaceted admissions process. Huynh ended up accepting a full ride to University of Chicago and is happy with how things turned out. “I don’t think I’d do anything differently,” he said. “I didn’t see the point to racialize myself, there are other more important factors to address.” Huynh’s response is one of many mixed reactions from the Asian-American community to the ongoing debate about college admission practices, an issue brought back to light when the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the use of race in Harvard University’s admissions practices. In November, the DOJ demanded Harvard to turn over admissions records as part of its investigation to examine whether Harvard is in violation of Title VI, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin” in Federal funded programs. The investigation began as the national conversation about the controversial practice of affirmative action continues. The concern that top universities like Harvard may be limiting the numbers of Asian-Americans it admits in favor of other minorities as a way to create a diverse student body is mirrored by other lawsuits like the one filed by the Student for Fair Admissions in 2014. That suit alleges Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students who are admitted. Edward Blum, president of Student for Fair Admissions and the legal strategist behind the 2014 lawsuit, formed the non-profit organization with the goal to eliminate racial preferences in college admissions. Blum praised the investigation as a “welcomed development,” in a statement. “In order to create true diversity there are far better ways to go about it without raising the bar for some and lowering for others,” Blum told ABC News. However, some Asian-American students don’t see it that way. As a Chinese-American student at Harvard, Raymond Tang said he understood the need for policies like affirmative action and the innate selectivity in elite colleges, especially Ivy League schools. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t get into Harvard, because I expect it to be hard to get in,” Tang told ABC News. With a 2340 SAT score, six Hong Kong national medals in figure skating and numerous other successes in academia and the arts, Tiffany Lau is also a student with impeccable qualifications. Now a 20-year-old History & Literature and Theater, Dance & Media major at Harvard, she too, emphasized the expected competitiveness in college admissions. Lau said she believes any applicant, regardless of race, should be expected to have “more than just great scores and impressive resume.” In order to examine a person as a whole, she said, one must evaluate the components that make up the person’s identity. And that’s why she would not support a race-blind admissions process, “as an individual’s race is a central part of how they navigate the world, how they grew up and who they are,” said Lau. Similarly, Tang said he believes schools are justified to accept students for different reasons. “If there wasn’t a way to accommodate different experiences, they’ll end up with a homogeneous pool of students,” he said. Others hold similar opinions to Blum and accept the current system as an ugly truth. Michael Paik, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania who scored over 2300 on the SAT and was a straight A student, remembered consciously shaping his application to differentiate himself from other applicants who may be perceived as more “traditional” Asian-American students. Paik said it’s a “commonly known thing” among Asian American households, since as a group, children tend to be raised in a culture where academic excellence is prioritized, making their application pool more competitive. Even his non-Asian friends, some who are at the opposite end of the affirmative action spectrum, admitted that his applications will have to be much stronger to be considered, Paik added. Between the myriad of variables at play and the limited spots available he recognized the complexity the issue warrants; however, he said although the process “is difficult and unpredictable” he still felt like “it’s unfair” at times. His mother, Michelle Paik, felt more strongly about what she saw as “an unjust system,” especially having five children with two of her eldest sons in college and three more on their way. “I was absolutely shocked when both of my sons got into their top choices, even though they were both top of their class,” said Mrs. Paik. She said it wasn’t for the lack of confidence in their abilities, but the unfortunate reality she and all of her children were acutely aware of — that Asian Americans are held to a higher standard. She didn’t want to discourage her children but she did warn them, “you may have all the qualifications but you are an Asian boy so there’s a big possibility you’ll be denied.” Instead of what is in place now, Mrs. Paik supports preferential policies based on socio-economic background. When a group of students of similar backgrounds and received the same private education “why should someone receive so much more benefits just because of their last name and skin color?” she questioned. As a mother of five, she often discussed the issue with other parents in the community who she said “share the same sentiments.” When they see certain unexpected college acceptances or rejections “they just roll their eyes, it’s an understood norm, which is sad,” Mrs. Paik told ABC News. “At this point there’s nothing you can do, this is the system in place, in a way you do have to accept it and just try your best,” a mentality she has tried to instill in her children’s minds. A Gallup poll taken in 2016 reflects the viewpoints of Mrs. Paik and that of many others, showing 65% of Americans are opposed to the consideration of race in admissions and support decisions that are based solely on merit. Citing the poll as one of the evidence of Americans’ desire to end racial preference, Blum said the students and families involved in the lawsuit were replete with relief and gratification when they realized they had a channel to voice their frustration in a significant way. The families were hopeful that the younger generation “will not be subject to the same kinds of discrimination,” the kind of quota system Harvard imposed on Jewish students back in the 1920s, Blum added. Policies akin to affirmative action has been on the nation’s center stage for decades and as the Justice Department’s investigation and pending lawsuits move forward, the country is certain to continue to debate the merits behind admission practices that take race into consideration. “It’s like a lottery,” Mrs. Paik said. “You may have everything, but it’s not a guarantee at all.” Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Powered by WPeMatico Relatedlast_img read more