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The Stress of Politics: Endocrinology and Voter Participation

Annual Meeting of the International Society for Political Psychology, June 2011


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Resource information:
Resource IDfrench2011
Resource titleThe Stress of Politics: Endocrinology and Voter Participation
Author(s)Jeffrey A. French, Kevin B. Smith, Adam Guck, John R. Alford, John R. Hibbing
Publication/ sourceAnnual Meeting of the International Society for Political Psychology
Date publishedJune 2011
Summary text/ abstractPeople vary in the way they respond to stressful situations. These variations can sometimes be seen in actions and facial expressions but they can be measured more precisely by determining the amount of cortisol, a well-known stress hormone, present in the body. Given the indisputable tendency of politics to generate stress, we hypothesized that individuals with the highest cortisol levels will be the least likely to participate in politics. We tested this hypothesis by collecting a series of saliva samples from over 100 individuals before and after they were subjected to a standardized and validated social stressor. We then conducted laboratory analyses of the samples to determine cortisol levels and correlated these levels with previously recorded levels of participation in various political activities, including data on actual (not reported) voter turnout in six recent elections. Even after controlling for a standard array of demographic traits as well as self-reported tendencies toward feeling stressed, people with the highest cortisol levels were indeed the least likely to vote in elections. Efforts to enhance voter turnout would be assisted by consideration of individual-level differences in stress reactivity.
Library categoriesAnarchism & Action, Direct Action & Protest, Politics, Simplicity
Added to Free Range Library15/10/2014
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