Voting in national elections causes stress and emotional arousal, study finds

With Election Day 2012 just weeks away, a recent study provides scientific evidence that voting in national elections is actually a stressful event with measurable hormonal changes.

"Emotional changes are related and affect various physiological processes, but we were surprised that voting in national democratic elections causes emotional reactions accompanied by such physical and that can easily influence our decision-making," according to Prof. Hagit Cohen from the Anxiety and Stress Research Unit at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Faculty of Health Sciences.

The study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology that the level of cortisol - a hormone secreted in times of stress to help the body cope with threats—was nearly three times higher just before voting than the of the control group, and nearly twice their level 21 months later. When a person is in a state of stress, threat or emotional distress, the body releases hormones including cortisol, known as the "stress hormone."

The study was conducted on Israel's Election Day in 2009 with people who were on their way to vote. They were asked to give a saliva sample for cortisol testing and to complete a questionnaire examining their emotional arousal at a stand that was placed 30 ft. from the ballot box. The control group consisted of other people from the same area who were asked to give a and complete the questionnaire on post-election day.

The study also found that people were more emotionally aroused just before casting their ballot. "Since we do not like to feel 'stressed out'," adds Prof. Cohen, "It is unclear whether this pressure on Election Day can influence people and cause them not to vote at all. Impact on voter turnout is particularly important given that the rise if our preferred party or candidate for whom we want to vote is not popular in the polls."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Voting causes stress: study

Sep 14, 2011

As the United States nears another election day, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have determined scientifically, for the first time, that voting is a stressful event, inducing measurable hormonal changes.

Visual Imagery Technique Boosts Voting, Study Finds

Oct 19, 2006

Registered voters who used a simple visual imagery technique the evening before the 2004 election were significantly more likely to vote the next day, a new study found. It was all a matter of the visual perspective people ...

Recommended for you

Brains transform remote threats into anxiety

Nov 21, 2014

Modern life can feel defined by low-level anxiety swirling through society. Continual reports about terrorism and war. A struggle to stay on top of family finances and hold onto jobs. An onslaught of news ...

Mental disorders due to permanent stress

Nov 21, 2014

Activated through permanent stress, immune cells will have a damaging effect on and cause changes to the brain. This may result in mental disorders. The effects of permanent stress on the immune system are studied by the ...

Could there be a bright side to depression?

Nov 21, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—A group of researchers studying the roots of depression has developed a test that leads them closer to the idea that depression may actually be an adaptation meant to help people cope with ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.