According to the “challenge behavioral hypothesis,” challenges increase the levels of testosterone, leading to an increased need for sexual satisfaction. In this study, the challenge hypothesis was tested in the participants of political elections and their supporters. It was examined “whether or not individuals who vicariously win a competition seek out pornography relatively more often than individuals who vicariously lose a competition.” Keywords used for searching pornography online before and after three different U.S. election cycles in the years 2004, 2006 and 2008, were analyzed in relation to each state. It was found that the percentage of searches for pornographic material increased in states that voted for the winning candidate.
Hypotheses that explain animal behavior can often successfully explain human behavior as well. The “Challenge hypothesis” states that in birds, testosterone levels change in response to challenges, resulting in behaviors enhancing reproductive advantage. Winners of competitions and elections show higher testosterone levels than losers. Even supporters show changes in testosterone levels depending on the fate of their champion. Increased testosterone levels in turn increase the desire for sexual stimulation, through such means as pornography. With the help of Google Trends, the number of searches for a particular keyword can be assessed in any particular area at a given time. Using this tool, this study was conducted to test if a win in an election correlates with increased pornography searches by supporters.
* Pornographic keyword searches from each state in election years 2004, 2006 and 2008 were considered. Probable searchers were males aged between 18 and 45 years.
* States were classified as Red or Blue on the basis of the majority of votes secured by Republican or Democratic parties. The term ‘Swing state’ referred to the state where voting could go either way.
* Word Tracker, an internet service, was used to shortlist the top 10 search words used by people to obtain pornography online.
* Google Trends was used to examine the percentage increase or decrease in the use of pornographic search-words in a particular state, for one week before and after elections.
* It was found that the states, which voted for the winning candidate, would search for pornography more frequently in the winning week. More searches were reported in the Red states in 2004 and in the Blue states in 2008.
* In the 2006 midterm elections, the Democratic Party won in the House of Representatives. As expected, the Blue states had a higher number of pornography searches than the Swing states. The least number of searches were reported from the Red states.
* The searches for pornographic material were more in the week following an election win, than in the week before elections.
Shortcomings / Next steps
A better mood in the fans of the winning candidate may have led to an increase in sexual desire. Therefore, the factors affecting sexual desire after a win need to be investigated. The search-words analyzed in this study were male-oriented. In order to understand gender differences, a different approach is required to analyze searches for pornography.
This study shows that when a champion wins, the fans end up seeking sexual satisfaction, often through pornography. Based on the voting trends of each state, the victory of a favored candidate resulted in people searching more avidly for pornography online. The ‘Challenge hypothesis’ suggests that a victory, even a vicarious one, increases the levels of the testosterone hormone, leading to an increase in sexual appetite. The current study supports this hypothesis. The study also shows that internet search engines can prove to be useful in tracking trends and helping in a better understanding of human behavior. Grouping the search-words that appear together (such as depression and suicide) will help in understanding how minds work.
For More Information:
Changes in Pornography-Seeking Behaviors after Political Elections: An Examination of the Challenge Hypothesis
Publicaton Journal: Evolution and Human Behavior, 2010
By Patrick M. Markey; Charlotte N. Markey; Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania; Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey
*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.