There are examples of positive political campaigns - Ronald Reagan appealed to what America could be, for example - but even that message of hope had an undercurrent of fear, namely that if things did not change, America would stay morassed in 1970s stagflation.

Fear is still used in political campaigns to steer public opinion, but a political scientist claims not everyone is equally predisposed to be influenced by that strategy. Who is most genetically predisposed to be swayed by fear?  Well, it is a humanities study done by someone with no science training, so take a guess.  Answer farther done if you can't connect the cultural dots.

Anyway, the co-authors have managed to overturn biology and insist that some people have a greater genetic liability ("liability" is another clue to help you answer my question in the paragraph above) and therefore experience higher levels of social fear and will tend to be more supportive of things like anti-immigration and pro-segregation policies (anti-immigration and pro-segregation are two more clues) - yes, if you would like to have immigrants arrive in the country legally, you must be genetically flawed.



Liberal-Conservative Index vs. Self-Report Phobic-Fear Loess Plot. Note: Figure contains the locally weighted robust scatter plot smoothing with confidence intervals, computed in SAS 9.2 (N = 22,412). Higher scores on Phobic-Fear indicate greater fear disposition; higher scores on Liberal-Conservative reflect attitudes that are more liberal. Credit and link: DOI: 10.1111/ajps.12016

Sure, no actual scientist has found evidence for trait-based fear, but this is a humanities study, those are always engaged in an open war on science - all it takes is looking at some surveys and writing up some statistics and it feels science-y. In this case, they picked their survey targets using related people, consisting of twins, siblings, and parents and children - then they made sure to narrow the pool into a group that would give them what they wanted by  'assessing' them using social psychology tools. 

Conclusion: Some people had common characteristics and therefore a genetic propensity for a higher level of baseline fear. What is this genetic propensity?  Hey, that is for biologists to figure out.  When the humanities try to be science-y, it's a lot like a mathematician who says he has mathematically invented time travel and it's up to those physicists to figure out the details.

If only they did some surveys.  Oh wait, they did - about immigration and segregation, of all things, showing us that olitical scientists seem to be stuck in 1963. Then those respondents were placed on a liberal-conservative scale - by the scholars - based on self-reported political attitudes.

No surprise that they found a 'strong correlation' between social fear and anti-immigration, pro-segregation attitudes.

The non-scientists make sure to cover themselves by saying genetics only plays a 'part' in influencing political preference - yet they don't show evidence it plays any role at all, this is just the self-recurring meme invented by people who want to pretend their cultural intolerance is evidence-based.  Evidence that voting is genetic? Still none, so their desire to do more studies to show how genetic pathways influence fear is a logical fallacy. 


Some of this is just playing to the crowd, really. The unknown empire of epigenetics has made it possible for everyone to speculate that their pet social hypotheses may be grounded in biology.  And even astute science readers are prone to acceptance ideas as science when it gets mainstream media attention - global warming acceptance goes up and down with weather events despite the fact that serious climate scientists have never said local weather events should be linked to global warming. They are right to caution against that - if we accept local weather in the American midwest, for example, then global warming did not exist until the summer of 2012.

So biologists cautioning that there is no evidence that there is a genetic basis to voting or being a liberal or anything else won't do much good in the court of public opinion once Mother Jones and Psychology Today start pumping out feel-good fallacy articles claiming a science basis that the 50% of America that is politically in opposition to the social sciences - non-liberals - are baser creatures motivated by fear.  But we shouldn't hate them; instead, we should reserve a special sort of biological dhimmitude for them and discourage them from breeding or voting.

Citation: Peter K. Hatemi, Rose McDermott, Lindon J. Eaves, Kenneth S. Kendler, Michael C. Neale, 'Fear as a Disposition and an Emotional State: A Genetic and Environmental Approach to Out-Group Political Preferences', American Journal of Political Science Vol 57 Issue 2  DOI: 10.1111/ajps.12016