Academic research on voting behavior don’t get most people salivating. Except for the participants in the most recent such study, who had to offer up spit samples in the process. What on earth for, you ask? To find out of certain hormones are related to a person’s likelihood of turning out to the polls.
And indeed, they are.
If your mind already went where most did, you’re probably thinking this relates to something sex or gender related. But, no. The hormone of interest isn’t testosterone or estrogen, but rather their adrenal cousin, cortisol.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha hypothesized that perhaps cortisol — the chemical that builds from and moderates physiological stress — could have something to do with voting behavior.
Here’s what they found about “Cortisol and Politics”:
In both self-reported and experimental participation in political activities, people with lower baseline salivary cortisol are substantially more likely to have voted in six national elections. Translation: the lower your baseline levels of stress hormone, the more likely you are to be politically active.
To students of health or medicine, this should come as little surprise. Cortisol is responsible for impacting a host of general health factors — and people who are in better health are probably also a lot more likely to find the energy and time to do things (political, or otherwise) more often.
But here is what should surprise you: the relative impact of cortisol levels on predicting voting behavior exceeded other controlling demographic variables in this study.
That said, here is what cortisol levels are unrelated to: how you vote, if you do.
So, campaign pundits, here’s your new message to your base: chill out, rest up, lower those cortisol counts… and then come vote.