There is a direct correlation between the outcome of a political election and a man's testosterone level, researchers say in a Duke University study released Tuesday.
Young men in the study who voted for Republican John McCain or Libertarian candidate Robert Barr in the 2008 presidential election experienced an immediate drop in testosterone when the election results were announced showing McCain and Barr lost to Democrat Barack Obama. Men in the study who supported Obama had stable levels of the hormone, the study found.
"This is a pretty powerful result," Duke neuroscientist Kevin LaBar said in a press release Tuesday. "Voters are physiologically affected by having their candidate win or lose an election."
Karl Leif Bates, director of research communications at Duke University, told Foxnews.com that researchers used the election to demonstrate how men's testosterone levels are affected during competition. The study found that losers in direct competition experience a drop in testosterone, while winners experience a hormone boost.
He said researchers chose the election because they wanted to see how men's hormone levels were affected during activity where they had an interest, but were not the direct competitors.
Bates stressed that the change lasted only a few hours. The voters' testosterone levels were not permanently altered.
To conduct the study, researchers at Duke University and the University of Michigan asked 183 men and women to chew a piece of gum and then spit into a sample tube at 8 p.m. as the polls closed on Nov. 4, 2008. When the election results were announced at 11:30 p.m., each participant offered a second sample, and then two more, each at 20-minute intervals.
The saliva samples were then examined for testosterone levels.
The study found that female subjects showed no significant change in their testosterone levels at any time during testing.
"Voters participate in elections both directly by casting their ballots, and vicariously because they don't personally win or lose the election," Duke post-doctoral researcher Steven Stanton said. "This makes democratic political elections highly unique dominance contests."