Obviously, many variables affect the decision to have or not have sexual intercourse (e.g., Are you in the “mood?” Did you have a romantic dinner? Did he remember the flowers?). Although most people probably don’t think the outcome of a political election is especially romantic, or has much effect on their libidos, recent research suggests that political elections could influence your sex life!
When you win a contest or competition (e.g., chess, video games, baseball) you tend to experience a slight increase in testosterone (yes, even in chess).1 In fact, you don’t even have to be directly involved in a competition for it to affect your testosterone levels; spectators can experience similar changes in testosterone levels. If your favorite sports team wins or even if your ideal political candidate (lke Obama or Romney) is victorious, you will likely experience a spike in testosterone.2,3 Given the link between testosterone and sexual behaviors,4 this made us wonder whether or not the outcome of political elections influence sexual activity.
In order to examine this notion, we obtained data from Google on keyword searches related to pornography immediately following the 2004 and 2008 US Presidential elections, as well as the 2006 and 2010 US midterm elections.4,5 The figure below displays the change in pornographic searches for individuals located in traditionally Democratic states and Republican states immediately after the election. Consistent with our predictions, after the 2006 and 2008 elections (when Democrats had clear political victories) searches for pornography in traditionally Democratic states increased, whereas these searches decreased in traditionally Republican states. Conversely, after the 2004 and 2010 elections (when Republicans had clear political victories) searches for pornography in traditionally Republican states increased while these searches decreased in traditionally Democratic states (see figure below). It is important to note that even though the percent change in any given year is small, given the number of individuals who utilize Google any such change likely reflects thousands (even millions) of additional searches for pornography beyond what is typical for a given state.
So if your choice (or your romantic partner’s choice) for President wins on November 6th there is a good chance that you might be celebrating the victory by having sexual relations with that woman (or man), yelling “yes we can,” or even “drill, baby, drill!” This is just another reason why it is important to REMEMBER TO VOTE!
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1Wingfield, J. C., Hegner, R. E., Dufty, A. M., & Ball, G. F. (1990). The ‘challenge hypothesis’: Theoretical implications for patterns of testosterone secretion, mating systems, and breeding strategies. American Naturalist, 136, 829–846.
2Bernhardt, P. C., Dabbs, J. M., Fielden, J. A., & Lutter, C. D. (1998). Testosterone changes during vicarious experiences of winning and losing among fans at sporting events. Physiology and Behavior, 65, 59–62.
3Stanton, S. J., Beehner, J. C., Saini, E. K., Kuhn, C. M., & LaBar, K. S. (2009). Dominance, politics, and physiology: voters’ testosterone changes on the night of the 2008 United States presidential election. PLoS ONE, 4, e7543,doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007543.
4van Anders, S. M., & Watson, N. V. (2006). Social neuroendocrinology: effects of social contexts and behaviors on sex steroids in humans. Human Nature, 17, 212–237
5Markey, P. M., & Markey C. N. (2010). Changes in pornography seeking behaviors following political elections: An examination of the challenge hypothesis. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31, 442-446.
6Markey, P. M., & Markey, C. N. (2011). Pornography seeking behaviors following midterm political elections in the United States: A replication of the challenge hypothesis. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 1262-1264.
Dr. Charlotte Markey – Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Markey’s research addresses issues central to both developmental and health psychology. A primary focus of her research is social influences on eating-related behaviors (i.e., eating, dieting, body image) in both parent-child and romantic relationships.
Dr. Patrick Markey – Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Markey’s research focuses on how behavioral tendencies develop and are expressed within social relationships, including unhealthy dieting, civic behavior, personality judgment, and interpersonal aggression after playing violent video games.