Identification of the Project:
The Genetic Basis of Economic Behavior
Professor John Hibbing, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Purpose of the Research:
Economists and policy-makers typically assume that humans are fundamentally selfish. Social reformers and sociologists often make the exact opposite assumption - believing that people are naturally social and cooperative beings. And of course many people believe that human nature varies a good deal along a continuum from saints to misers, with most falling somewhere in-between. But where do these basic economic and social 'personalities' come from? This research project is directed at understanding the potential role of genes in establishing and transmitting these basic economic and social temperaments. About 500 twin pairs aged 19-40 will complete an online internet-based questionnaire about their basic economic and social tendencies while also engaging in actual exchanges of real money with other anonymous study participants. In addition to the tradition comparisons of MZ and DZ twins, this study will also include an extensive comparative analysis of DNA samples from the twins.