The Higher Power of Religiosity Over Personality on Political Ideology

Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz, Amanda Friesen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two streams of research, culture war and system justification, have proposed that religious orientations and personality, respectively, play critical roles in political orientations. There has been only limited work integrating these two streams. This integration is now of increased importance given the introduction of behavior-genetic frameworks into our understanding of why people differ politically. Extant research has largely considered the influence of personality as heritable and religiosity as social, but this view needs reconsideration as religiosity is also genetically influenced. Here we integrate these domains and conduct multivariate analyses on twin samples in the U.S. and Australia to identify the relative importance of genetic, environmental, and cultural influences. First, we find that religiosity’s role on political attitudes is more heritable than social. Second, religiosity accounts for more genetic influence on political attitudes than personality. When including religiosity, personality’s influence is greatly reduced. Our results suggest religion scholars and political psychologists are partially correct in their assessment of the “culture wars”—religiosity and ideology are closely linked, but their connection is grounded in genetic predispositions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-661
Number of pages25
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Attitudes
  • Genetics
  • Ideology
  • Personality
  • Religion
  • Religiosity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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