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Researchers Link Upper Body Strength to Political Opinions in Men

Update Date: May 15, 2013 03:18 PM EDT

In the past, ancestors often measured power via physical strength before wealth and politics started playing larger roles in society. Based from this understanding of how men used to acquire resources to survive, researchers Michael Bang Petersen from Aarhus University and Daniel Sznycer from the University of California, Santa Barbara, wanted to study whether or not physical strength, particularly upper body strength, played a role in the political opinions regarding economic resources. The researchers and their colleagues defined upper body strength as an indicator of one's ability to defend and get resources and theorized that this particular feature could predict the individual's stance on economic redistribution.

The research team compiled data from over hundreds of participants from the United States, Argentina and Denmark. They measured the participants' bicep size and recorded the participants' socioeconomic status as well as their opinions regarding economic redistribution. The researchers discovered that men with more upper body strength tended to be more vocal about having their self-interests in mind over economic distribution, whereas men with less upper body strength were not as opposed to the idea of economic distribution.  The team also found that wealthier men were less resistant to the idea, whereas poorer men were not fond of economic distribution.

"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. "This is among the first studies to show that political views may be rational in another sense, in that they're designed by natural selection to function in the conditions recurrent over human evolutionary history." The study found not significant results in women. 

The findings were published in Psychological Science.  

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