Voting methods and cortisol levels.

Voting methods and cortisol levels.

Several previous studies on political participation and voting have indicated that there is a correlation with changes to the neuroendocrine stress system. Cortisol is a neuroendocrine glutocorticoid that is well known to be associated with the stress response, it is sometimes referred to as “the stress hormone.” The fact that cortisol levels change whilst voting makes a great deal of sense, since when voting we must make a decision by weighing up the “pros-and-cons” of policy.


A recent study sought to investigate voting methods and cortisol levels. In recent decades voters have been able to cast their ballot in various ways by attending the polling-stations, voting from home by post or over the internet, this study incorporated some of these methods. Members of the general public took part in the current study with wide age-ranges, educational levels and economic status. Before and after casting their ballot participants gave saliva samples so that their cortisol levels could be measured.

The results of the study indicated that voters experienced less stress, and a lower cortisol level when voting from home compared to those who voted at polling-stations. These results show that the traditional method of voting induced a higher level of stress in voters compared to home-voters. This shows that voting from home through non-traditional methods may have the potential to increase political participation among individuals who are sensitive to social stressors.

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Daniel Edgcumbe

I am studying towards my PhD in cognitive neuroscience at a leading London university

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