The Politics of Porn, The Porn of Politics

This isn’t the usual look at the politics of porn.

According to the article Changes in pornography-seeking behaviors following political elections: an examination of the challenge hypothesis, there’s an interesting connection between how people vote and their porn habits. It turns out that states that voted for the winner of a national election search for porn online than states that voted for the loser. Here’s how it broke down:

According to the Challenge Hypothesis, competition increases testosterone in males, which leads to an increase in various behaviors. Further, the winners of competitions tend to have higher testosterone levels than the losers, and it even extends to spectators. Male fans of winning sports teams tend to have higher testosterone levels than the fans of the losers, which would indicate that the result of the game leads to a change in hormone levels, rather than higher hormone levels (and hence, aggression) leading to winning the game. It also explains some of the things that resulted from the World Series last night, like guys burning trash cans, trying to knock down street signs, and a car driving into a crowd (video here, but not for the faint of heart). In any case, it also turns out that men who voted for Obama in 2008 had higher testosterone levels than McCain voters, although there were no differences in testosterone among women voters. So some scientists thought it would be interesting to look at possible relationships between election results and porn viewing.

The researchers analyzed US voting patterns, broken down by state, during the 2004, 2006, & 2008 elections. They also used WordTracker to analyze keywords used to search for porn and Google Trends to determine the popularity of those keywords. When they put it all together, they found that:

As predicted, for the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections, individuals located in states that voted for the winning political party tended to have higher rates of pornography seeking behaviors following the election than did individuals located in states that voted for the losing political party. This finding remained even after controlling for pornography-seeking behaviors the week before the election.

While this is consistent with the Challenge Hypothesis, the researchers are clear that other explanations are possible. Backers of winning candidates might be in better moods and more likely to seek sexual stimulation, for example. Also, they couldn’t filter for the genders of the voters or porn searchers. So there could be other factors influencing the results. And they didn’t look at what happens with folks who didn’t vote. I’m curious to know if they end up with testosterone levels in the middle. But whatever is going on, it sure is interesting that porn use increases among folks who voted for the winning candidate.

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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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