Sociological Science: Recent Research

Is the Effect of Parental Education on Offspring Biased or Moderated by Genotype?

Dalton Conley, Benjamin W. Domingue, David Cesarini, Christopher Dawes, Cornelius A. Rietveld, Jason D. Boardman

Sociological Science, February 25, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a6



Parental education is the strongest measured predictor of offspring education, and thus many scholars see the parent–child correlation in educational attainment as an important measure of social mobility. But if social changes or policy interventions are going to have dynastic effects, we need to know what accounts for this intergenerational association, that is, whether it is primarily environmental or genetic in origin. Thus, to understand whether the estimated social influence of parental education on offspring education is biased owing to genetic inheritance (or moderated by it), we exploit the findings from a recent large genome-wide association study of educational attainment to construct a genetic score designed to predict educational attainment. Using data from two independent samples, we find that our genetic score significantly predicts years of schooling in both between-family and within-family analyses. We report three findings that should be of interest to scholars in the stratification and education fields. First, raw parent–child correlations in education may reflect one-sixth genetic transmission and five-sixths social inheritance. Second, conditional on a child’s genetic score, a parental genetic score has no statistically significant relationship to the child’s educational attainment. Third, the effects of offspring genotype do not seem to be moderated by measured sociodemographic variables at the parental level (but parent–child genetic interaction effects are significant). These results are consistent with the existence of two separate systems of ascription: genetic inheritance (a random lottery within families) and social inheritance (across-family ascription). We caution, however, that at the presently attainable levels of explanatory power, these results are preliminary and may change when better-powered genetic risk scores are developed.
Dalton Conley: Department of Sociology, New York University. E-mail: [email protected]

Benjamin W. Domingue: Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Boulder

David Cesarini: Center for Experimental Social Science, Department of Economics, New York University

Christopher Dawes: Wilff Family Department of Politics, New York University

Cornelius A. Rietveld: Erasmus School of Economics and Erasmus University Rotterdam Institute for Behavior and Biology, Erasmus University.

Jason D. Boardman: Institute of Behavioral Science and Department of Sociology, University of Colorado Boulder.


  • Citation: Conley, Dalton, Benjamin W. Domingue, David Cesarini, Christopher Dawes, Cornelius A. Rietveld and Jason D. Boardman. 2015. “Is the Effect of Parental Education on Offspring Biased or Moderated by Genotype?” Sociological Science 2: 82-105.
  • Received: November 25, 2014
  • Accepted: December 26, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a6


Gender Differences in the Formation of a Field of Study Choice Set

Sigal Alon, Thomas A. DiPrete

Sociological Science, February 18, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a5



Women now surpass men in overall rates of college graduation in many industrialized countries, but sex segregation in fields of study persists. In a world where gender norms have changed but gender stereotypes remain strong, we argue that men’s and women’s attitudes and orientations toward fields of study in college are less constrained by gendered institutions than is the ranking of these fields. Accordingly, the sex segregation in the broader choice set of majors considered by college applicants may be lower than the sex segregation in their first preference field of study selection. With unique data on the broader set of fields considered by applicants to elite Israeli universities, we find support for this theory. The factors that drive the gender gap in the choice of field of study, in particular labor market earnings, risk aversion, and the sex composition of fields, are weaker in the broad set of choices than in the first choice. The result is less segregation in considered majors than in the first choice and, more broadly, different gender patterns in the decision process for the set of considered majors and for the first choice. We consider the theoretical implications of these results.
Sigal Alon: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University.  Email: [email protected]

Thomas A. DiPrete: Department of Sociology, Columbia University.    Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Alon, Sigal, and Thomas A. Diprete. 2015. “Gender Differences in the Formation of a Field Study Choice Set.” Sociological Science 2: 50-81.
  • Received: July 9, 2014
  • Accepted: September 16, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a5


The Social Contagion of Antisocial Behavior

Milena Tsvetkova, Michael W. Macy

Sociological Science, February 4, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a4



Previous research has shown that reciprocity can be contagious when there is no option to repay the benefactor and the recipient instead channels repayment toward strangers. In this study, we test whether retaliation can also be contagious. Extending previous work on “paying it forward,” we tested two mechanisms for the social contagion of antisocial behavior: generalized reciprocity (a victim of antisocial behavior is more likely to pay it forward) and third-party influence (an observer of antisocial behavior is more likely to emulate it). We used an online experiment with randomized trials to test the two hypothesized mechanisms and their interaction by manipulating the extent to which participants experienced and observed antisocial behavior. We found that people are more likely to harm others if they have been harmed and they are less likely to do so if they observe that others do not harm.
Milena Tsvetkova: Department of Sociology, Cornell University  E-mail: [email protected]

Michael W. Macy: Department of Sociology and Department of Information Science, Cornell University  Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Tsvetkova, Milena, and Michael W. Macy. 2015. “The Social Contagion of Antisocial Behavior.” Sociological Science 2:36-49
  • Received: November 24, 2014
  • Accepted: January 5, 2015
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Gabriel Rossman
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a4


Studying Online Behavior: Comment and Rejoinder

Kevin Lewis
Ashton Anderson et al.

Sociological Science, January 21, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a2
DOI 10.15195/v2.a3

Comment Rejoinder 0

Kevin Lewis: Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego
Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Lewis, Kevin. 2015. “Studying Online Behavior: Comment on Anderson et al. 2014″ Sociological Science 2: 20-31.
  • Received: September 19, 2014
  • Accepted: Spetember 29, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Stephen L. Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a2 

Ashton Anderson: Department of Computer Science, Stanford University
E-mail: [email protected]

Sharad Goel: Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University
Email: [email protected]

Gregory Huber:  Department of Political Science, Yale University
Email: [email protected]

Neil Malhotra:  Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
Email: [email protected]

Duncan J. Watts:  Microsoft Research
Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Anderson, Ashton, Sharad Goel, Gregory Huber, Neil Malhotra, and Duncan J. Watts. 2015. ” Rejoinder to Lewis” Sociological Science 2: 32-35.
  • Received: November 13, 2014
  • Accepted: November 17, 2014
  • Editor: Jesper Sørensen
  • DOI: 10/15195/v2.a3

Original Article 


Disability and the Worlds of Welfare Capitalism

Rourke O’Brien

Sociological Science, January 12, 2015
DOI 10.15195/v2.a1



A higher proportion of working- age persons receive disability assistance in the Nordic countries and the Netherlands than in other European countries. Whereas current research emphasizes the connection between disability assistance and rates of labor force exit, to date there has been no exploration of how welfare state context influences individual self-reported disability. Using nationally representative data from 15 countries (n = 88, 478), I find that residents of generous welfare states are significantly more likely to report a disability net of self-reported health, sociodemographic, and labor force characteristics and, notably, that this association extends to younger and more educated workers. I argue that welfare state context may directly shape what it means to be disabled, which may have consequences for evaluations of welfare state performance and social exclusion.

Erratum: Versions downloaded prior to January 30th, 2015 omitted Figure 3. As a result, those versions also have incorrect pagination. Please use the current version.

Rourke O’Brien: Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Harvard University E-mail: [email protected]

  • Citation: O’Brien, Rourke L. 2015. “Disability and the Worlds of Welfare Capitalism” Sociological Science 2: 1-19.
  • Received: July 26, 2014
  • Accepted: September 20, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Stephen L. Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v2.a1


Birds of Different Feathers Cooperate Together: No Evidence for Altruism Homophily in Networks

Brent Simpson, Matthew Brashears, Eric Gladstone, Ashley Harrell

Sociological Science, December 22, 2014
DOI 10.15195/v1.a30



Many evolutionary models of cooperation assume that altruists possess telltale signs of disposition that they use to find and selectively associate with each other. Prior research finds that people can detect these signs of altruism in strangers, but we do not yet know whether this results in altruism homophily. We argue that dispositions should matter less in repeated interactions, where behavior is based on reciprocity. As a consequence, we should not expect people to have accurate insight into the dispositions (egoism vs. altruism) of their friends, nor should we expect these relations to be characterized by altruism homophily. Three studies, employing diverse methodologies and measures, find no evidence of altruism homophily. Moreover, we find that people have poor insight into their friends’ altruism. We discuss the implications of these findings for the emergence of altruism and the role of embedded interactions in sustaining human cooperation.
Brent Simpson: University of South Carolina  E-mail: [email protected]

Matthew Brashears: Cornell University  E-mail: [email protected]

Eric Gladstone: Cornell University Email: [email protected]

Ashley Harrell: University of South Carolina Email: [email protected]

  • Citation: Simpson, Brent, Matthew Brashears, Eric Gladstone, and Ashley Harrell. 2014. “Birds of Different Feathers Cooperate Together: No Evidence for Altruism Homophily in Networks.” Sociological Science 1: 542-564.
  • Received: September 4, 2014
  • Accepted: October 11, 2014
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen,  Gabriel Rossman
  • DOI: 10.15195/v1.a30