2019 is bound to follow the political climate of 2018. With an election season in the midst, politics and theories around it are bound to remain in the spotlight. There are many theories that people have as to why others adopt certain political ideologies. Is it because of the regions people live in, certain biases, bleeding heart tendencies, or love of economics? Many people have noticed a trend, to where children of politically active parents, tend to also follow their parent’s political affiliation. Studies have found, that when accounting for both parents political views, researchers can predict an individual’s political affiliation with 69.5% accuracy.

There are different theories behind this phenomenon. One theory for political socialization is that the parenting styles of politically active parents shape children in adolescents. This can happen because more conservative parents tend to be more authoritarian in their parenting, their obedience and value driven style breeds a more conservative ideology in their children.  This theory was strengthened when researchers found that they could examine parent’s attitudes when their child was 1 month old and accurately predict the political attitudes their children would have 17 years later. With some parents this may happen inadvertently, while others may hope that they are instilling certain “political” values in their children.

Another theory explored by scientists looked into other factors that could contribute to how political beliefs are passed down. A main factor into whether or not children inherit their parents’ political beliefs depends on the parent’s ideology and the level of conflict between the parents and child. When children go into a rebellion against their parents, their politics tend to follow suit. When rebelling, children of conservative parents tend to lean more liberal. The opposite is not the case for children of liberal parents. Children of liberal parents often show their rebellion by moving further left than their parents. At the time of these current studies, it was rare to find a conservative child with liberal parents.

There may also be a brain science link between family political views and those of their children. Some studies have shown differences in brain structures for Democrats and Republicans, and many believe that they point to a hereditary link in politics. This comes from neuroscience research between the physiological differences between Democrats and Republicans. Children may be genetically predisposed towards certain political beliefs because of the genetic foundations in their brain structure. However, changes in one’s environment can lead to changes in their cognitive functions and brain structure. Researchers found evidence that “acting as a partisan in a partisan environment may alter the brain” this could work in conjunction with the heredity effect of politics. If children are raised in a highly political environment at home and become political when young, there is evidence that they will follow in their parents political footsteps and may even become more extreme.

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It is not extreme to believe that parents’ influence their children’s political tendencies, but it is also not a definite science. While parent’s may be influential in the political shaping of their child’s political ideology, it would be foolish to assume that children are blindly following their parents. It’s 2019, information is more accessible than ever and there is a slew of differing opinions flying at us constantly. So, while our parent’s influence our political beliefs, either positively or negatively, it is up to us to fine tune our beliefs.

Tabitha L
CONTRIBUTOR