Testosterone and Voting

This is election season in both Brazil and the United States. There are major differences in the elections in each country—for example, Brazil has a modern national electronic voting system and the U.S. does not—but citizens of each country endure many of the same election season annoyances. Perhaps the biggest irritation are the political advertisements.

One type of political advertisement common in Brazil demonstrates a graph showing how their candidate is winning, and probably will be the winner. The implication is “you want to vote for a winner, right?” Interestingly, a serious medical research study was carried out by the Universities of Michigan and Duke (USA) on presidential election day in the U.S. in 2008.

The researchers studied 163 college-aged men and women voters who had their testosterone levels measured four times on election day. The first was a “baseline” level at 8 am, and then again in the evening when the winner was announced, and then twice more in the following hour.

Women (who do indeed have testosterone in their blood, though at a lower level then men), had no change in their testosterone levels whether or not they voted for the winner (Obama) or loser (McCain). But the men showed a striking difference.

In the graphic chart above, you can see how the testosterone level changed for the winning and losing voters.  Both Obama and McCain voters started out with the same levels, but later, when they learned the results, the Obama voters’ testosterone levels remained high, but the McCain voters showed a significant drop.

Not only did the “losing” voters suffer a drop in testosterone, but they also felt more “controlled, submissive, unhappy, and unpleasant” than the “winning” voters. And earlier research has shown that people who suffer this post-contest drop in testosterone are less inclined to be interested in future contests.

The researchers concluded that for men, just participating vicariously in a voting contest felt like a challenge for dominance. The men who voted for the winner felt more dominant than the losing voters, and it reflected in their testosterone levelsSo at least for men, It not only feels good when their candidate wins, but men also feel more potent. Further, when “they” win, they are more likely to be interested in future elections. Apparently the people who make the “vote for the winner” ads seem to have the right idea…

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)