Hormones make us do a lot of things – including vote

It's not just demographics, it's also biology

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Turns out there’s a voting hormone. Who knew?

You probably thought voting behavior is driven by social or demographic variables. And those certainly play a role but, as is true with so much of our behavior or sometimes misbehavior – hormones make a difference.

This news comes from researchers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Rice University. They just published a study in the journal Physiology and Behavior that says we are more likely to vote if we have low levels of the stress hormone cortisol and less likely to vote if we have high levels.

That’s a little hard to follow, but it basically means we need to chill out.

"It's one more piece of solid evidence that there are biological markers for political attitudes and behavior," Kevin Smith of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Political Science said in a press release. "It's long been known that cortisol levels are associated with your willingness to interact socially. … The big contribution here is that nobody really looked at politics and voting behaviors before."

The researchers collected the saliva of over 100 participants before and during activities designed to raise and lower stress and measured cortisol levels.

“Our experiment helps to more fully explain why some people engage in electoral politics and others do not," Jeff French, Varner Professor of Psychology and Biology and director of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s neuroscience program, said in the same release.

Now, when campaign strategists see this study, they’re bound to start thinking about how to turn it into – you’ve got it – a strategy.

We’ll leave it up to you as to what that might be, but we suggest you get suspicious if somebody tries to get you to spit into a test tube next time you attend a political rally

Print this article Back to Top

DecodeDC's Mission

DecodeDC's foremost aim is to be useful. That means being a reliable, honest and highly entertaining source of insight and explanation. It also means providing multimedia coverage of Washington's people, culture, policies and politics that is enlightening and enjoyable. Whether it's a podcast, a video, an interactive graphic, a short story or a long analysis, it will be based on this guiding principle: We are in DC but not OF DC.