It is widely believed that the political standpoint in a given household has strong influence on the political beliefs of the adolescents whom grew up there. Given that the 2016 presidential election is right around the corner, I’ve decided to explore this topic and attempt to recognize how political opinions are shaped. Not to mention the overwhelming amount of people that approach you in the hub on the daily asking the question that everyone dreads, “Are you registered to vote?”, make it hard to forget about the election…
Many conclude that the political views of others within an individuals exposed environment juggle with and/or manipulate their political stance when engaged in conversation on the topic. While this may be true, additional third confounding variables have been identified that sway the political opinions of young children. In a scholarly paper written by Andrew Healy whom attended Loyola Marymount University, and Neil Malhotra whom attended Stanford University, a newly conceived notion is closely dissected. Healy and Malhotra analyzed a fairly large natural study conducted by the University of Michigan Political Socialization Panel (PSP), and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), which solely focuses on the influence gender of siblings has on political beliefs.
The experimenters hypothesized that boys with sisters are more likely to possess conservative views leading up to adulthood than males with brothers. While this can be labeled as the alternative hypothesis, the null hypothesis would be that the gender of siblings has no effect on political opinions. The putative causal variable (X variable) being tested is sibling gender and gender roles in a given household, and the putative response variable (Y variable) being measured is whether the older male siblings identify as Democrats or Republicans as they grow older. The data collected in this experiment is entirely survey based, therefore, a potential barrier is that respondents might not be completely honest in their answers.
In 1965, the PSP gathered a group of 17-19 year olds for the first wave of the study, and followed up with them in 1973, 1982, and 1997. The surveys asked a series of questions pertaining to their opinion on a woman’s stance in the workforce. The respondents were to rate these statements/questions on a 1-7-point scale, 1 being the most liberal choice, and 7 being the most conservative choice. Similarly, the NLSY respondents were given statements regarding gender roles and were asked to rate them from strongly disagree-strongly agree. The data collected by this organization is fairly more modern given that the survey was handed out in 1986, followed up in 2006 and 2008, and ended in 2011. One advantage the NLSY has over the PSP is that it contains detailed information of the respondent’s childhood experiences prior to the experiment. However, both the NLSY and PSP possess background information on the families of those who were surveyed.
- Data from both the PSP and NLSY showed a massive amount of males with sisters whom possessed conservative and traditional views on gender roles.
- Men with sisters are less likely to perform typical female chores around the house, but the gender of a female’s sibling(s) does not alter their household tasks.
- Correct decision and a consistent result
Take home message: Political opinions are shaped by multiple surrounding factors, and are linked to gender. The results of this study does not prove that ALL males with sisters tend to classify themselves as republicans, but it does raise an interesting point that should be further researched. As a female who grew up in a house entirely made up of woman, I tend to fall more on the liberal side of the political spectrum. However, a handful of my girlfriends have brothers with political views that would further prove the conclusion of this study!