Revisiting Our Assumptions About the Nature of Man Insights and Implications of Behavioral Genetics for Behavioral Public Administration

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Christoffer Florczak

Keywords

behavioral genetics, twin studies, individual differences, socialization

Abstract

Behavioral public administration was coined as a term to describe a field focused on the psychologically based study of individual level behavior and attitudes with relevance for the public sector. Although it holds important insights on human behavior, the literature on behavioral genetics has so far largely been missing in this field. In this paper, I propose that behavioral genetics is concurrent with the scope of behavioral public administration and that it complements the popular theory of bounded rationality. Next, I outline the logics of the twin studies that underlie much of behavioral genetics, and synthesize relevant existing results both inside and outside public administration that relies on behavioral genetics. Functionally, I arrange these insights as they relate to citizens, employees, and managers and present examples of how gene-environment interactions allow for integration of behavioral public administration and behavioral genetics. I argue that insights from behavioral genetics are needed to maximize explanatory power and avoid biased estimates of the effects of socialization when examining these three groups. I conclude by presenting points for practitioners.

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