“Politics can interact with evolution to shape human destiny.”
I mean, considering that the study authors apparently want to talk about something like epigenetics, not industrial strength fascism. 😉
The researchers said that there is an interaction between political and cultural forces and evolutionary results. Genes can shape culture and political institutions, which in turn can shape biology and physiology, passing on certain traits to future generations.
The environment’s influence on adaptation and how it changes biology is better known and often easier to observe, said Hatemi, but the way culture can affect gene expressions in future generations is often harder to show and may take longer to reveal itself.
Hatemi, who worked with Rose McDermott, the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor of International Relations, Brown University, said this interaction between culture and biology could explain why some troubled hot spots remain troubled over many years. People who are born in aggressive environments may pass on traits that make it more likely that future generations react to certain situations violently, he added.
“These changes, then, may have a long-range effect on children and on who those children become when they grow up,” said Hatemi. “Those who grow up in a violent culture may have more of a tendency to respond with aggression in the future.”
I wrote on something similar last Sunday: Why Canada is less violent than the United States, except sometimes
My point was that when a country’s history doesn’t feature many positive historic changes that involved extensive violence, people will be less likely to see violence as creating a benefit. However, I didn’t argue for a genetic component (unlikely in this case), more for the role of tacit assumptions and learned behaviour.
Although the term “epigenetics” is not used in the story or abstract, that must be the way culture would influence genetics, if it does.
Here’s the abstract:
Biology and culture continually and interactively cocreate. In order to fully understand culture, the biological pathways that co-occur must also be appreciated. And in order to determine how biological influences manifest in social behaviors, culture cannot be discarded. Here we discuss the interaction between genes and culture and show the ways in which each influences and informs the other. We argue that this interaction is profoundly important in shaping a wide variety of political and institutional differences across populations, including critical processes such as cooperation and conflict. We apply a levels-of-analysis approach to the study of individuals, cultures, and populations. In doing so, we discuss the potentially critical role of gene-environment mismatch in precipitating many political and social problems, especially those related to political violence. (paywall)
– O’Leary for News
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