No matter where we are on the political spectrum, we all have the same underlying goals and behaviors: The pursuit of happiness, the American dream etc. This is, at the very least, the way psychologists had viewed political ideology for quite some time. However, new research may have identified the characteristics that lead us to lean ideologically to the left or right and it may be genetic.

New York University psychologist John Jost will present his research at the Association for Psychological Science’s 19th annual convention in Washington, DC, May 24-27th.

Jost states that current political realities, data from the American National Election Studies, and recent psychological findings provide strong grounds for revisiting the topic of ideology after years of neglect.

He says that numerous variables affect the degree to which people are drawn to conservative versus liberal thinking but that 90 percent of college students can place their political beliefs on a liberal/conservative scale and that those beliefs influence how they vote in elections.

Jost uses a study of twins to state that part of ideology may be genetically based. Identical twins have similar political beliefs more often than fraternal twins.

Societal factors are the strongest influence, he says. People who feel unsafe are more likely to move toward conservative positions.

Or, as my daddy always said, "A Republican is just a Democrat who got mugged."

Source: Association for Psychological Science