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Elections and Testosterone

- October 21, 2009

This one is making the rounds:

bq. Young men who voted for Republican John McCain or Libertarian candidate Robert Barr in the 2008 presidential election suffered an immediate drop in testosterone when the election results were announced, according to a study by researchers at Duke University and the University of Michigan. In contrast, men who voted for the winner, Democrat Barack Obama, had stable testosterone levels immediately after the outcome.

Here is more. As is often the case with such studies, the further consequences of the physiological changes are less clear. Here are possibilities:

bq. Stanton said the scientific consensus suggests the testosterone response to fighting and competition in males affects their future behavior in a beneficial way. The loser chills out a bit so he doesn’t continue to press his case and perhaps become injured. In contrast, the winner may be motivated to pursue further gains in social status.

It would be interesting to know if testosterone changes after election outcomes are accompanied by changes in actual behavior.