Washington: The answer to why some people cast their vote and others do not may be hidden in hormones, says a study.

Levels of the stress hormone cortisol could be a strong predictor of actual voting behaviour, the findings showed.

“Politics and political participation is an inherently stressful activity,” said Jeff French from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in the US.

“Many factors influence the decision to participate in the most important political activity in our democracy, and our study demonstrates that stress physiology is an important biological factor in this decision,”  French added.

To reach their conclusion, researchers collected saliva samples of over a 100 participants who identified themselves as highly conservative, highly liberal or disinterested in politics altogether and analysed the levels of cortisol found in the samples.

Cortisol was measured in saliva collected from the participants before and during activities designed to raise and lower stress.

The data was then compared against the participants’ earlier responses regarding involvement in political activities (voting and non-voting) and religious participation.

“Not only did the study show, expectedly, that high stress activities led to higher levels of cortisol production, but that political participation was significantly correlated with low baseline levels of cortisol,” French explained.

The study appeared in the journal Physiology and Behavior.

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