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Our society is organized in a hierarchal way. In many species, social subordination can create a stress response. The elections represent an occasion to reorganize the hierarchy of political parties. The goal of the current study was to investigate if cortisol levels of the electors differed at the moment of the announcement of the winner at the presidential elections according to which elector won or lost the election. The participants gave saliva at 8:00PM the night of the elections and at the moment of the announcement of the winner as well as 20 and 40 minutes after the announcement. Before the announcement of the results, the two groups had similar levels of cortisol. However, following the announcement of Obama’s victory, cortisol levels for electors who had voted for McCain were significantly more elevated than the for those who had voted for Obama. The authors suggest that defeat in this competition of human hierarchy is reflected by an increase of stress levels in party supporters.

Title: Stressful politics: Voters’ cortisol responses to the outcome of the 2008 United States Presidential election

Authors: Steven J. Stanton, Kevin S. LaBar, Ekjyot J. Saini, Cynthia M. Kuhn, Jacinta C. Beehner

Journal: Psychoneuroendocrinology (2010) vol. 35 (5) pp. 768-774