The Temporal Stability of In-Group Favoritism Is Mostly Attributable to Genetic Factors

Gary Lewis, Tim Bates

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Twin studies of in-group favoritism have reported roughly equal influences of genetic and environmental factors. All, however, have solely relied on cross-sectional approaches, leaving open the question of whether genetic and environmental factors have similar roles on stability and change for in-group favoritism across time. While in-group favoritism is commonly perceived to reflect environmental influences, stable environmental effects are rare for psychological traits, thus suggesting that genetic influences may play the major role in the stability of favoritism. Here, we used addressed this issue using a 10-year (two waves) longitudinal twin design. In-group favoritism showed high rank-order stability (r = .67). Seventy four percent of this rank-order stability was attributable to genes. A broadly similar pattern was observed for race, ethnic, and religious favoritism. By contrast, changes in favoritism almost entirely reflected nonshared environmental influences. These findings indicate that environmental influences underpin change in favoritism, while the stability of favoritism mostly reflects genetic influences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-903
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number8
Early online date7 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

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