October 28, 2009
Testosterone Drops In Guys Whose Candidate Loses

Feeling like a political loser? You probably have low testosterone.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Young men who voted for Republican John McCain or Libertarian candidate Robert Barr in the 2008 presidential election suffered an immediate drop in testosterone when the election results were announced, according to a study by researchers at Duke University and the University of Michigan.

I'm setting aside 2 seconds while I write this sentence to feel sympathy for guys who become so invested in a political candidate that their testosterone drops if their candidate loses. Really, you should focus on achieving for yourself, not depend on political candidates to give you a feeling of power. Though for lobbyists and or people with prospects of getting appointments or contracts from the winner the testosterone reaction is more rational.

Men who voted for Obama only had stable testosterone as a result. No boost in testosterone? What's with these guys?

In contrast, men who voted for the winner, Democrat Barack Obama, had stable testosterone levels immediately after the outcome.

Female study participants showed no significant change in their testosterone levels before and after the returns came in.

The men who participated in the study would normally show a slight night-time drop in testosterone levels anyway. But on this night, they showed a dramatic divergence: The Obama voters' levels didn't fall as they should, and the McCain and Barr voters lost more than would have been expected.

"This is a pretty powerful result," said Duke neuroscientist Kevin LaBar. "Voters are physiologically affected by having their candidate win or lose an election."

If you can't separate your feeling of well-being from outcomes of political elections then consider using testosterone replacement therapy after a loss. Heck, that might even make sense when losing in other ways. Lost money in the stock market? Take some T. Girlfriend dumped you? Time for T.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 October 28 10:59 PM  Brain Politics

Jerry Martinson said at October 29, 2009 12:50 AM:

Throughout the 1990's I kept my testosterone up by reminding myself that "Charlton Heston is MY president".

random said at October 29, 2009 11:15 AM:

Unfortunately I can't find a reference right now, but I remember reading that men with higher levels of testosterone do not rethink or second-guess decisions they've made. If you make a poor decision (like following a loser), then it seems beneficial to survival to be forced to rethink that decision.

Also, I wonder what the testosterone levels would be for someone following a winning candidate that is unable to achieve any goals.

th said at October 30, 2009 3:56 PM:

What were hillary's levels after the primaries?

Kralizec said at November 1, 2009 8:31 PM:
I'm setting aside 2 seconds while I write this sentence to feel sympathy for guys who become so invested in a political candidate that their testosterone drops if their candidate loses.
Really, Randall, you surely don't lack imagination in general, but every so often, you evince such a lack of understanding of others' motives that I begin to suspect a touch of Asperger's Syndrome. Those of us who felt wretched after the election of that empty suit, that vapid fvck, that creature of his own teleprompter, felt as we did, not because we live vicariously through politicians, but because we consider the election of that starry-eyed sophist a looming disaster for the United States.

As readers, we are here, not because of your understanding of human nature, but because of our admiration of the breadth and depth of your scientific, technological, and futurist interests. Please know your strengths.

Randall Parker said at November 1, 2009 9:21 PM:


I understand Obama's deficiencies. I also understand McCain's deficiencies. 2008 was a tragic election. I used to have emotional reactions similar to your own. But I decided not to get sucked it to those emotional reactions. They are not productive. I'm rudely implying this by my comments in my post. Yes, I expected some people to get upset by my comments. I'm not being oblivious when I say what I said.

Are big things going wrong in the US of A? Yes, of course and on my ParaPundit blog I analyze many of them. I'm very politically incorrect and unorthodox in my views. But I see the really bad developments as akin to natural phenomena. Earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and coronal mass ejections are no more natural phenomena than the stupidity of tens of millions of voters.

Look at the posts I do about innate tendencies and weaknesses in cognition. Apply those findings to your analysis of politics.

Lono said at November 2, 2009 8:47 AM:

I notice this effect with the local sports teams as well.

It is rather rediculous to me that people so invest emotionally into some things on which they can have little to no effect - such as professional sports contests - but if it weren't for the bread and circuses - I suspect - our local and Federal politicians would not be able to get away with such naked criminality - as they do today.

As an avid gamer of all sorts I rather love this analysis of the situation by Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade fame:

"In any case, this will be the last time I invest myself in a game where I have no power to determine the outcome. I really feel a need to emphasize the distinction between this and the sort of game that usually occupies my time. When I feel the kind of plundered devastation I felt on Sunday, there is usually a "learning phase" that follows it. It's the first step in a process, a chain of well-documented events which culminates in the expulsion of self-doubt and leaves as the remainder the possibility of future victory. Provided, of course, that I have internalized the deep wisdom presented by the universe - taken the yoke of that strange intellect which courses through defeat.

When other people are playing the game and it is my job to watch helplessly, all that exists is desolation."

I couldn't agree with him more - and thus - I do not find myself emotional tied to externalities but rather to my own performance when undertaking an activity or cause - regardless of the overall outcome.

th said at November 2, 2009 6:48 PM:

Parker, there's a rumor going around the teleprompter's getting skinnier every day, I would bet he's going around with unresolved issues that are piling up and affecting the appetite of the on-the-job-trainee or its cronic alcoholism in the making, either way he's finished.

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