Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Attraction to Public Policymaking: Genetic and Environmental Components

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jason D. Smith, Syracuse University
Is public service motivation more a product of nature or nurture? The literature on the origins of public service motivation is currently characterized by environmental determinism. This study examines the contribution of genetic factors to individual differences in one type of motive for participating in public service - attraction to public policymaking – using a classical twin design and information on 782 sets of young-adult twins. In the particular sample examined, approximately 29 percent of the phenotypic variance in attraction to public policymaking can be accounted for by genetic factors, while the rest can be accounted for by environmental factors unique to the individual. Furthermore, approximately 36 percent of the total effect of genes on attraction to public policymaking is mediated by trait dominance. The results show that (1) both the environment and genetics contribute to individual differences in attraction to public policymaking and (2) suggest that genes affect attraction to public policymaking through their influence on the development of trait dominance.