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gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I'd bet yes. Seems as though it would be tied to some function other than politics. Have political systems been around long enough to alter evolutionary considerations? This is a pretty lame effort to attach politics to science.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

i'm only sort of being snarky.

personally, i find sexual excitement a distraction, and i try hard not to get all turned on and horny when i'm doing serious and important things like voting. i mean, i guess some could find that activity "sexy," but that's not really how i feel about it at all.

HeroesGetMade's picture
Submitted by HeroesGetMade on

Anne Sibert:

In a fascinating and innovative study, Coates and Herbert (2008) advance the notion that steroid feedback loops may help explain why male bankers behave irrationally when caught up in bubbles. These authors took samples of testosterone levels of 17 male traders on a typical London trading floor (which had 260 traders, only four of whom were female). They found that testosterone was significantly higher on days when traders made more than their daily one-month average profit and that higher levels of testosterone also led to greater profitability – presumably because of greater confidence and risk taking. The authors hypothesise that if raised testosterone were to persist for several weeks the elevated appetite for risk taking might have important behavioural consequences and that there might be cognitive implications as well; testosterone, they say, has receptors throughout the areas of the brain that neuro-economic research has identified as contributing to irrational financial decisions.
If – as the research may suggest – men are less risk averse than women, then a work group composed primarily of men (or primarily of women) may be a particularly bad idea. A vast psychology literature documents the phenomenon that group deliberation tends to result in an average opinion that is more extreme than the average original position of group members. If a group is composed of overly cautious individuals, it will be even more cautious than its average member; if it is composed of individuals who are overly tolerant of risk, it will be even less risk averse than its average member (Buchanan and Huczynski 1997).

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

Somewhere in this complex thread, I linked to an article about traders and testosterone, but it was an article that had a different methodology.

I clicked on your link and read- again, great find! TY

tedraicer's picture
Submitted by tedraicer on

The evidence from that study only suggests that males suffer a drop when they lose, not that Right-wing males do. I strongly suspect the same would have been found among male Kerry voters in 2004.

Submitted by lambert on

I don't have time to find the original study, but there is this quote in the story:

The Obama voters’ levels didn’t fall as they should, and the McCain and Barr voters lost more than would have been expected.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

Lambert, I did a bit of googling, and finally resorted to PubMed. I can't get a hard link, and the full article is not available, only the abstract.

To read the abstract, go to and enter the search terms "testosterone levels election". That comes up with one result, the study in question.

I mean, hey, there isn't a huge body of scientific literature addressing this important issue. So, I guess this was a really ground-breaking study. /s?

Here is the full abstract:

BACKGROUND: Political elections are dominance competitions. When men win a dominance competition, their testosterone levels rise or remain stable to resist a circadian decline; and when they lose, their testosterone levels fall. However, it is unknown whether this pattern of testosterone change extends beyond interpersonal competitions to the vicarious experience of winning or losing in the context of political elections. Women's testosterone responses to dominance competition outcomes are understudied, and to date, a clear pattern of testosterone changes in response to winning and losing dominance competitions has not emerged. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The present study investigated voters' testosterone responses to the outcome of the 2008 United States Presidential election. 183 participants provided multiple saliva samples before and after the winner was announced on Election Night. The results show that male Barack Obama voters (winners) had stable post-outcome testosterone levels, whereas testosterone levels dropped in male John McCain and Robert Barr voters (losers). There were no significant effects in female voters. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The findings indicate that male voters exhibit biological responses to the realignment of a country's dominance hierarchy as if they participated in an interpersonal dominance contest.

Oh, and as the abstract says "Women's testosterone responses to dominance competition outcomes are understudied, and to date, a clear pattern of testosterone changes in response to winning and losing dominance competitions has not emerged. "

Gosh, women are generally "understudied". Who knew? That is flat out correct. Women were excluded from "sleep studies", because, well, they're just so complex. Etc. etc. I know that wasn't anything having to do with what you said, but....

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks, VG, and please regale us with PubMed material more often!

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

I don't check PubMed nearly as often as I read Corrente, and only if prompted!

I'm more of a YouTube person these days. But after you comment, I got deep into PubMed territory, looking at the 2D:4D ratio.

It was because of this studyI found

This is the closer in the abstract- from a PNAS article. We femmes in science call it the PENIS journal, because there are so few females elected to the National Academy of Science, but nonetheless, it's a highly respected journal among both xxs and xys.

The success and longevity of traders exposed to high levels of prenatal androgens further suggests that financial markets may select for biological traits rather than rational expectations.

And, sorry to clutter the thread with a YouTube, but.... this is part 1 and I think very interesting---

oh, p.s. I am awesome at parallel parking. But maybe that's just because I grew up in LA. ;)

And, I know see that the PNAS study I linked goes exactly back to your comment here

In fact, the idea that the financial crises...... have a testosterone-driven component is a good one.

Submitted by hipparchia on

and mad verbal skillz, i has dem too.

my parallel [non]parking was so bad at 16 that they gave me my license anyway so that i wouldn't come back, but years later, after i'd lived a few months where i got a lot of practice, i got pretty good at it.

it's on youtube somewhere iirc but i have not been able to find it again -- they tested the 3d intelligence of cats and dogs and found out that cats were waaaaaay better.

then they had an idea...

funny pictures of dogs with captions

they noticed that in general cats jump and climb on furniture and trees and such waaaaaay more than dogs do, so they taught the dogs to jump up on the furniture [and various levels and types of furniture iirc]. the dogs' scores on the 3d intelligence test went waaaaaaaay up in short order.

my guess is that if it has anything to do with the mad 3d skillz, that it's more along the lines of testosterone generating an interest in learning those skills, rather than imparting those skills innately.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

One of the "musts" for getting a Driver's License in CA at the age of 16 was to be able to parallel park. And, I learned it first through verbal instruction! Position your car close and parallel to the car in front of the one in front of the empty parking space behind, back up straight until your car is half-way back along the length of the car in front, and then whip the steering wheel around and keep backing up until you almost get to the curb in the open space, and then straighten out, and keep backing up, up and until you hit the car in the space behind. I think it's a CA thing. ;)

So, I'm not sure about your conclusion, because it seems to be based on your parallel parking experience, in part. I iz great at rotation of 3D objects too! I think that this is generally more prevalent in the male population (can't remember the data), but among female scientists, I'd guess that this % skill is way higher.

Uh, and, I have to laugh- are you saying that cats have more testosterone than dogs? I don't think so! LOL. but, I'll try to find that youtube too. I am a bit biased, because I am more of a cat lover than a dog lover. ;)

And, speaking of cats, I won't embed this YouTube, because it would probably be too off topic for Lambert to love, but I just found this earlier today, when I and my Freshman seminar were checking out YouTubes of preying mantises.

Submitted by hipparchia on

the 3d skillz are learnable, not innate.

cats, being the small prey animals they are, and possessing the jumping and climbing skills they do, learn the mental 3d skills because of all the physical 3d skills they repeatedly put into practice. their physical structure makes them better at leaping than dogs are [to some extent], and their claws make them well-suited to climbing. being prey, they have ample incentive to practice these physical skills.

i've owned a couple of dogs who have been very very good at both jumping and climbing, but neither of them, while virtuosos in the dog world, could ever be compared to cats. further, dogs often lack incentive to develop their physical 3d skills because much of the stuff they're interested in is on the ground. my two dogs became fairly smart 3d-wise, and i suspect that this happened at least in part because i encouraged them in their jumping and climbing games [also, the red dog loved diving].

in humans, greater testosterone level seems to correlate with greater 3d physical activity. whether it's because more hormone creates a greater interest in 3d physical activities [killing woolly mammoths, swinging from tree to tree on vines, wev], or whether it's just that more testosterone makes more muscle mass which makes such activities easier and therefore more enjoyable, i dunno. maybe some mix of the two.

my overarching theory is that cats, dogs, and humans develop their mental 3d skills as a result of first indulging in activities that develop/require physical 3d skills.

how much of a role that testosterone would play in that is difficult to test in humans, given that girls both have less of the hormone and are discouraged, starting at a young age, from indulging in physical activities that would likely enhance their 3d cognitive skills.

dogs, cats, horses [in no particular order] are my favorites, but i grew up with birds, fish, snakes, turtles, hamsters, gerbils, and cows too.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

I just gotta go with the conclusion that there is a basic "gift" for 3D skills which is biological, innate. But, that doesn't mean that those gifts can't be developed, or that a creature with a glimmering of 3D hope can't improve on that. They can, with appropriate encouragement and rewards.

But, I just don't think that all creatures are a blank slate as to 3D skills.

Oh, and btw, I just discovered the "private message" function at Corrente. I sent you a "private message" which said, basically, Kip loved your latest post on Dartmouth.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i'm not arguing for that so much as against the constant beating of the drums for this 'innate' boy/girl divide, be it mad 3d skillz, or a love of pink, or 'leadership stylez', or [fill in the blank].

Submitted by hipparchia on

i'm pretty sure that bug would have been toast in this household.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

It was a really sweet vid. But, it may have been an "indoor cat", who had not had much experience in the wild. The outdoor cats I've had would have made the bug toast too! Course, before they toyed with it a bit.

Submitted by hipparchia on

some of them from birth, but they are predators through and through. this is florida, bugs galore, there's no escaping them, but those that do get inside the house don't last long.

splashy9's picture
Submitted by splashy9 on

And talking about "female hormones" in a disparaging way. Actually, it looks like the hormones of males are at least as variable and unpredictable as the hormones of females.

Funny, though, to think that that's the reason guys are depressed after losing a game, or their team losing. Makes a case for not getting into sports. ;-)

deniseb's picture
Submitted by deniseb on

my sense of being surrounded by football hooligans over at the Orange Place last year. Also, the way the media cover elections exactly as though they were sporting events.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

It captures a lot! I am thinking of my experience of what I call online pissing matches. Males mark their territory by pissing, or even by spitting (humans). And, this is done verbally by a lot of males online- they get into pissing matches with each other. It's a dominance thing.

I never was too interested in engaging in the pissing matches, and I think many females are turned off by this "level" of interaction. Well, certainly I am. I got turned off by the male "I am right so just shut up and sit down" attitude promulgated by principals at the Orange Place (I assume you mean dKos) way long ago- like years, so I don't read there now.

And, YES! About the way the media covers elections. TY!

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and read avidly from the bios of real pilots and of astronauts, and read all the books you can get your hands on covering NASA testing procedures for spatial awareness, dizziness, peripheral vision, etc.

I read a translation of the autobiography of the best fighter pilot in the Pacific in WWII from the Japanese side. Nearly drove my mother crazy propping open the screen door that summer to let flies into the house so I could catch them by hand.
(Not with chopsticks; that's in one of the Karate Kid movies.)

Then I turned 14, and bought a horse ...

Submitted by hipparchia on

the horse at 14 part. now that's flying. i started off in barrel racing and pole bending, like everybody else, but a friend turned me on to eventing and then i never looked back.

there were always a few small planes on the family farm, and any time we went to visit, there were always plane rides. my brother an i used to see who catch more flies by hand, but my vision has always been bad, so he almost always beat me.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

bareback cattle work we did with the horse I bought (of course, she was 3 months old at the time, and it took two and a half years before she could carry any of us.)

Plane rides didn't happen until I enlisted. First one ever took me to San Antonio to start basic training.