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

October 11, 2012

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."

Explore further: Voting causes stress: study

Related Stories

Voting causes stress: study

September 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.

Recommended for you

Anti-stress compound reduces obesity and diabetes

December 13, 2017
For the first time, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich could prove that a stress protein found in muscle has a diabetes promoting effect. This finding could pave the way to a completely new treatment ...

Encouraging risk-taking in children may reduce the prevalence of childhood anxiety

December 13, 2017
A new international study suggests that parents who employ challenging parent behavioural (CPB) methods – active physical and verbal behaviours that encourage children to push their limits – are likely protecting their ...

Researchers link epigenetic aging to bipolar disorder

December 12, 2017
Bipolar disorder may involve accelerated epigenetic aging, which could explain why persons with the disorder are more likely to have - and die from - age-related diseases, according to researchers from The University of Texas ...

Researchers find common psychological traits in group of Italians aged 90 to 101

December 12, 2017
In remote Italian villages nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and mountains lives a group of several hundred citizens over the age of 90. Researchers at the University of Rome La Sapienza and University of California San ...

Twitter can reveal our shared mood

December 11, 2017
In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Bristol have analysed mood indicators in text from 800 million anonymous messages posted on Twitter. These tweets were found to reflect strong patterns ...

Infant brain responses predict reading speed in secondary school

December 11, 2017
A study conducted at the Department of Psychology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and Jyväskylä Centre for Interdisciplinary Brain Research (CIBR) has found that the brain responses of infants with an inherited ...

0 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.