Amanda Friesen joined the faculty at IUPUI as an Assistant Professor in Political Science and a Faculty Research Fellow with the Center in 2012, after earning her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Friesen’s research interests involve the areas of political psychology, political behavior, religion and politics, gender and politics, and behavior genetics and focuses on the following questions: What explains individual preferences for organizing society? How do these political preferences develop, and do they overlap with other areas of an individual’s life? How do identities and group membership—such as religion and gender—interact with these orientations? By integrating various social science fields as well as leveraging innovations in biological measurements and correlates of political attitudes and behaviors, she seeks to understand the psychology behind, and origins of, political ideology and issue attitudes.
Friesen has published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London-B, Political Behavior, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Politics & Religion, Social Science Quarterly, PS: Political Science & Politics, and The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics. Links to her work can be found at amandafriesen.wordpress.com.
Friesen’s recent publication, “Do Political Attitudes and Religiosity Share a Genetic Path?”, highlights the major tenets of her research agenda—the interactions of religion and biology with politics. Published in 2014 by Political Behavior, she and co-author Aleksander Ksiazkiewicz use a classic twin design on a sample of American adults to demonstrate that certain religious, political, and first principle beliefs can be explained by genetic and unique environmental components, and that the correlation amongst these three trait structures is primarily due to a common genetic path. These findings provide evidence that the overlap between the religious and the political in the American context—usually treated as separate entities that influence one another—may in part be due to underlying principles regarding how to understand and organize society and that these principles may be adopted to satisfy biologically-influenced psychological needs. This article originated from part of Friesen’s dissertation (funded by the National Science Foundation), which focused on the generational transmission of political and religious beliefs. This research has already started gaining national attention in the New York Times and work has begun on expanding this analysis to citizens of other countries.
Currently, Friesen is also researching several projects related to the intersection of gender, psychology, religiosity, and political participation/orientations.