Publications of Littvay, L.

Choosing sides. The genetics of why we go with the loudest

Recent developments in spatial voting have moved beyond finding the most appropriate utility function and started to assess individual differences in decision strategy. The question is not if a proximity or directional worldview performs better in general, rather under what conditions do people pick one strategy over the other? We draw on psychological theories to develop a survey-based measure of individual decision strategy and take a behavior genetic route to explaining the individual differences. We argue that dispositional traits shape whether an individual develops a directional or proximity worldview of the political arena. Utilizing a classical twin design, we capitalize on the documented relationship between partisanship and a directionalist worldview. We find that, in the Minnesota Twin Political Survey, both the strength of party identification and directional voting are moderately (~20 percent) but significantly (p < 0.05) heritable with no socialized component contributing to the variance. The covariation between the two traits is predominantly driven by common underlying genetic effects (p < 0.01). Implications for the rational voter models are discussed in light of the findings.

Do Heritability Estimates of Political Phenotypes Suffer From an Equal Environment Assumption Violation? Evidence From an Empirical Study

Using data from the Minnesota Twins Political Survey, this paper tests for the presence of unequal environments (EEA) by zygosity in political attitudes. Equal environment measures used include shared bedroom, friends, classes, and dressing alike. Results show an EEA violation at p < .05 in 5% of the models tested. The violations' impact on heritability estimates and their confidence levels appear random in magnitude and direction. No reasonable post hoc explanation emerged for understanding the presence of the violation in some items but not others. This article establishes reasonable priors for the absence of EEA violations in political phenotypes based on the tested environmental components. The findings place the burden on critics to present theoretical work on the specific mechanisms of EEA violations based on which additional empirical assessments could (and should) be conducted.

Littvay L. Measuring Social and Political Phenotypes. In: Somit A, Peterson SA, editors. Biology and Politics: The Cutting Edge. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing; 2011. p. 97-114. (Research in Biopolitics).

Psychosexual Study of Communist Era Hungarian Twins

Our aim in this study is to describe the characteristics of sexual development in twins and estimate the role of heritability and environmental factors as causes of certain sexual disorders. Two hundred and ten adult same-sex twin pairs (92 monozygotic [MZ] female, 41 MZ male, 55 dizygotic [DZ] female and 22 DZ male pairs) were involved in the study. Data were collected in 1982 by self-administered questionnaires that included items on sexual maturation, sexual life, contraception, mutual sexual activity within twin pairs and alcohol use. The ratio of married to unmarried twins was nearly the same in MZs and DZs, with the exception that the divorce rate was higher in MZ female twins (14%), and DZ and male twins were slightly more likely to be single. Menarche was later in twins compared to non-twin Hungarian women. 57% of MZs experienced menarche within 3 months of each other, 77% within 6 months while it occurred for 30% and 43% respectively in DZs. The first seminal emission indicated some delay in male twins compared with the Hungarian general population sample. MZ first kisses occurred later than DZ's first kisses. The same was true for the first petting, masturbation and first sexual intercourse. Anorgasmy is 27% heritable but the estimate is not statistically significant. Concordance rate for premature ejaculation in MZs was greater than in DZs but the structural equation model showed significant misfit. Age at menarche appeared to be strongly heritable.

Does an EMILY’s List endorsement predict electoral success, or does EMILY pick the winners?

Women's political action committees (PACs)—those committees founded by women to raise money for women candidates—have been and will likely continue to be an important part of American electoral politics. In this article, we investigate the impact of EMILY's List, because it is the standard bearer of women's PACs and is commonly cited as crucial to women's electoral success. Empirical studies of EMILY's List impact to date have largely assumed causal inference by using traditional linear models. We use a propensity score–matching model to leverage on causality and find that an EMILY endorsement helps some candidates and hurts others. Our findings set the stage for further and more nuanced investigations of when, where, and how EMILY's List can enhance the likelihood of electoral success for women.

Ethics and Personality: Empathy and Narcissism as Moderators of Ethical Decision Making in Business Students

Many studies have reported that business students have been more apt to act in self-interested ways when compared to their counterparts in other academic fields. Beginning with the premise that ethical behavior derives in part from personality characteristics, the authors tested whether (a)measures of an empathetic or narcissistic personality predicted self-reported ethical decision making in business students and (b) individual business majors have a tendency to exhibit these personality traits. First, findings demonstrate that empathetic and narcissistic personality traits are significant predictors of ethical decision making. Second, they found that finance majors showed a marked and statistically significant tendency to be less empathetic and more narcissistic as compared to other business students.

Chronic hepatitis C virus infection associated with autonomic dysfunction

Background: Impaired autonomic function has been described in patients with chronic liver diseases from different aetiologies, and has proven to be a poor prognostic indicator. To date, it is not known how chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects the autonomic nervous system. Aims: In the present study, we compared cardiovagal autonomic function in patients with chronic HCV infection and healthy controls and examined the relation between autonomic function and serum levels of aminotransferases, HCV RNA, cryoglobulins, albumin and glucose. Methods: Autonomic function was assessed in 45 treatment-naïve patients with chronic HCV infection and in 40 healthy controls by determining spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) and heart rate variability (HRV) indices. The R–R interval was determined by electrocardiogram recording; continuous radial artery pressure was monitored simultaneously by applanation tonometry. Laboratory analyses and quantitative polymerase chain reaction for serum HCV RNA level were performed by standard procedures. Results: BRS and HRV time and frequency domain indices were lower in patients with HCV infection compared with healthy controls [7.1±3.4 vs. 11.5±6.5 ms/mmHg for BRS, 168.5±160.9 vs. 370.7±349.4 ms<sup>2</sup> for low-frequency HRV (mean±SD); P<0.01]. Multivariate analysis showed that autonomic dysfunction in HCV-infected patients correlated with elevated alanine aminotransferase levels, but was not associated with serum HCV RNA levels and cryoglobulins. Conclusion: Our results suggest that impaired autonomic function is caused by chronic HCV infection. Further studies are needed, however, to identify the underlying mechanisms.

Questionnaire Design Considerations with Planned Missing Data

This article explores considerations that emerge when using a planned missing data design (PMDD). It describes scenarios where a PMDD can be useful and reveals implications of a PMDD for questionnaire design in terms of the optimal number of questionnaire versions. It takes a confirmatory factor model to explore the PMDD performance. Findings suggest that increasing the number of versions to maximize uniformity of missing data yields no advantage over minimizing data collection cost and complexity. The paper makes recommendations concerning different missing data patterns that can be used. And finally, this article points out how certain fit statistics could be misleading with PMDD. The one fit statistics that consistently performed well with the PMDD is the SRMR.

An Analytical Strategy for Modeling Count (Poisson) Distributed Phenotypes with Genetically Informative Twin and Family Data

Meeting abstract of Behavior Genetics Association, 38th Annual Meeting.

A new way of modeling ascertainment or MAR missing data in the ACE model

Meeting abstract of Behavior Genetics Association, 37th Annual Meeting.

Comparison of Likelihood Based and Bootstrapped Confidence Intervals in the ACE Model

Meeting abstract of Behavior Genetics Association, 37th Annual Meeting.

The Historimetric Database : A platform for quantifying historical information for twin research

Abstract from the 12th International Congress on Twin Studies

Evolutionary Theory and Political Leadership : Why Certain People Do Not Trust Decision Makers

Central to social systems are the attitudes of the rank and file toward those who make political decisions (leaders), and attitudes toward leaders are known to be characterized by two fundamental features. First, the modal attitude is acceptance of the necessity of leaders coupled with acute aversion to leaders who are believed to be motivated by ambition and avarice; second, people are highly variable with some being markedly more sensitive than others to the traits of leaders. But the theoretical basis for these empirical facts has yet to be fully elucidated. In this article, we offer such a theory by drawing on biological evolution and then, using a series of laboratory experiments, provide an empirical test of it. Results are fully consistent with evolutionary theory in showing that people are indeed generally sensitive to leadership traits threatening to the larger group even as certain, expected individuals are a good deal more sensitive than others.

Littvay L. A választási kampány pszichológiája a 2002-es magyarországi parlamenti választások fényében. In: Lányi G, editor. Politika pszichológiai tükörben : Magyarország, 1990-2005. Vol 2. Budapest: Jószöveg Műhely; 2006. p. 241-57. (ELTE Társadalomtudományi Kar Politikai Magatartásvizsgáló Kutatóközpont kiadványai; vol 2).

A választási kampány pszichológiája a 2002-es magyarországi parlamenti választások fényében

Election Campaign Psychology in light of the 2002 Hungarian Parliamentary Elections.