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Political attitudes vary with detection of androstenone

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 January 2020

Amanda Friesen
Affiliation:
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Mike Gruszczynski
Affiliation:
Indiana University Bloomington
Kevin B. Smith
Affiliation:
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
John R. Alford
Affiliation:
Rice University
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Abstract

Building on a growing body of research suggesting that political attitudes are part of broader individual and biological orientations, we test whether the detection of the hormone androstenone is predictive of political attitudes. The particular social chemical analyzed in this study is androstenone, a nonandrogenic steroid found in the sweat and saliva of many mammals, including humans. A primary reason for scholarly interest in odor detection is that it varies so dramatically from person to person. Using participants’ self-reported perceptions of androstenone intensity, together with a battery of survey items testing social and political preferences and orientations, this research supports the idea that perceptions of androstenone intensity relate to political orientations—most notably, preferences for social order—lending further support to theories positing the influence of underlying biological traits on sociopolitical attitudes and behaviors.

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© Association for Politics and the Life Sciences 2020

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