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Election Testosterone

November 9, 2009

The 2008 presidential election affected male voters’ testosterone levels.


A president’s effect on hormones. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When a man scores a competitive victory, his testosterone goes up. Now, Duke University neuroscientist Steven Stanton and his colleagues have found that a vicarious political win can have the same effect. His team took saliva samples from North Carolina and Michigan voters, throughout the night of the 2008 election. Normally, testosterone levels decline slowly in the evening.

STEVEN STANTON (Duke University):
Testosterone levels in Obama voters were stable after the outcome of the election. Whereas testosterone levels in men who voted for McCain and Bob Barr, the conservatives, dropped in large magnitude, and quite rapidly.

This didn’t happen in women. Stanton says the short-lived effect encourages male winners to take more risks and assert their dominance, and losers to avoid further conflict. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

The study appears in PLOS One.


Election night may affect men’s testosterone levels. (Jupiter Images)