Dems vs. Repubs: It’s about housework

From Mother Jones:

Lots of people have been looking to science to explain the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Mother Jones‘ Chris Mooney has published a rundown of all the brain differences suspected in the gulf between liberals and conservatives. But a new studyby researchers from Loyola Marymount University and Stanford University’s business school suggests another factor may play a role in forming the political brain: the gender of one’s siblings. According to the study, boys with only a sister were 15 percent more likely to identify as a Republican in high school, and they were 13.5 percent more conservative in their views of women’s roles than boys who only had brothers.

The reason for this difference? Not genes or neural pathways, but something more mundane: housework. The researchers speculate that boys take their cues about women’s roles from an early age, and that girls tend to be assigned more traditional chores when they have a brother. Watching their sisters do this housework “teaches” boys that washing dishes and other such drudgery is simply women’s work. Boys with only brothers don’t seem to have this problem because the chore load at home tends to be spread around more equally. The impact on men’s gender perceptions is long term, but the stark partisanship fades somewhat as men get older, the researchers say.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Anthony Lawson

    I like Mooney’s work but finding other contributors doesn’t surprise me at all. Growing up I had several brothers and one sister, we all did house work. I then spent most of my life as a conservative and only within the last 5 years have I really broken away and now consider myself center-left. I’m in my upper 40s.

  • MatthewS

    Interesting idea for sure but wildly off the mark for my family’s experience. I grew up in a home with only brothers, no sisters. We had to cook and clean. I cooked breakfast a lot. We boys washed dishes every day. We lived in a rural area (bringing responsibility for one’s own survival). I look like a flaming liberal compared to the rest of my immediate family.

    My dad was self-employed.

    I would expect that running a small business has probably turned more dems into repubs than the other way around. To this day, that remains one of my major complaints with Obama’s resume. He can campaign and he can call out his adversaries, but if he were to step into the shoes of a small business owner and try to make a success of it, I think he would be surprised how difficult it is, and how the government makes the challenge ever more daunting.

  • Steve Billingsley

    There is a long history of trying to explain political differences by “brain chemistry” or speculative psychologizing. And it is spectacularly unimpressive as most of the time it degenerates pretty quickly into confirmation bias for the perspective of the researcher and/or the “interpreters” of the research.


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