Physically strong men are more likely to hold Republican views, while weaker men are prone to support liberal ideas such as redistribution of wealth, a new study finds.
The research, published in the journal Psychological Science
, found that men's upper-body strength predicts their political opinions, a link, researchers believe, may be a reflection of psychological traits that evolved in response to early ancestral environments when decisions about the distribution of resources came down to shows of physical strength.
"While many think of politics as a modern phenomenon, it has — in a sense — always been with our species," said Professor Michael Bang Petersen, one of the study's authors.
The researchers collected data on bicep size, socioeconomic status, and support for economic redistribution from hundreds of people in the United States, Argentina, and Denmark.
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The findings revealed that wealthy men with high upper-body strength were less likely to support redistribution, while less wealthy men of the same strength were more likely to support it. At the same time, weaker men, wealthy or not, were less likely to support their own self-interest.
"Despite the fact that the United States, Denmark, and Argentina have very different welfare systems, we still see that — at the psychological level — individuals reason about welfare redistribution in the same way. In all three countries, physically strong males consistently pursue the self-interested position on redistribution," Petersen said.
He added, "Our results demonstrate that physically weak males are more reluctant than physically strong males to assert their self-interest — just as if disputes over national policies were a matter of direct physical confrontation among small numbers of individuals, rather than abstract electoral dynamics among millions."
The researchers found that the physical strength of women had no effect on their political views.
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