Science is not an entirely unbiased enterprise. Like any other form of academic subject it can be prone to error. While simple mistakes are understandable, pseudoscience is not. Then there is the tendency of news outlets and various media to misinterpret information or simply spread falsehoods. If there was a correlation between political affiliation and physical strength it should show in voting patterns. Such a phenomenon may not even be based on biology rather, the environments in which people are raised.Convictions and political positions are molded by culture, personal experiences, and the communities in which people live. Sometimes political beliefs are formed by the era and the zietgiest held by the people. This study was published by Physiological Science . It was called “The Ancestral Logic of Politics.” The study made the assertion that upper body strength regulates assertion in terms of economic self interest and wealth distribution. Originally published in 2013, the study echoes psychological pseudoscience of the 20th century. There seems to be at least some influence of constitutional psychology present in this peer reviewed work. However, a biological basis for behavior cannot be ignored. It is clear that human evolutionary history has an impact on behavior and the function of society. Science is not a completely unbiased or error free enterprise. This is why any theory must be put through the scientific method to prove it to be fact. Politics and economics go far beyond biology and evolution.
Upper body strength was pivotal to early hominids for the sake of fighting ability. The reason for sexual dimorphism was that it allowed males to compete with one another for mates. Theoretically, the largest hominids would have greater access to females and resources. The study notes that physical strength to a degree is not as relevant to advancing in society. Although this study focused on men, women should have been examined more. If physical strength plays a factor in political and economic ideology this pattern should be present in women. Logically, one would assume that women, who have less physical strength over all would them be more in favor of redistribution of wealth. What the study found was that men of higher socioeconomic status with higher upper body strength favored their privileged status. Men of lower socioeconomic status were favored redistribution. The study indicated suggested that political decision making formed on the basis of evolutionary psychology. This was done to serve the needs of small scale groups. The problem is that the study only relies on men from the US, Argentina, and Denmark. Compared to the 193 countries that exist in the world, this sample may be too small to make such a statement. If these claims were true such political decision making would be present in Asia and Africa. Three countries is simply not enough to make definite statements.
There has to be a sociological reason for why this does not work the same for women. It would be erroneous to say what the men and women’s politics are based on their physical strength.
The study then mentions asymmetric war of attrition model of behavioral ecology. Fighting ability and strength were used to gain or regulate the decision making process prior to the rise of advanced human civilization. What is seen in vertebrate species is that greater fighting ability means greater access to resources. Weaker animals are more willing to cede resources they cannot effectively defend. Humanity is different in the fact that cooperation was a pivotal part of its survival. This has relevance to human aggression. Women have been shown to be less aggressive in terms of direct physical confrontation. Through evolutionary history women had less to gain from physical confrontation compared to men. This may explain why women did not gain equal amounts of upper body strength as men, because it was an evolutionary trait that did not provide women an advantage. Upper body strength as well as aggression was found to play a role in decision making regarding conflict. This may partially explain why there is war and violence. The questions of leadership,economics, and politics have too many factors to be organized in a data chart, so this is why the study just discussed wealth and its distribution.
During the course of human biological evolution, female fighting ability was not as essential as a man’s. This theory may explain that particular element of sexual dimorphism.
The experimental method also is critical. Although it cannot be ignored that there are biological basis for behavior, sociological factors cannot be discarded either. There also could have been a problems with measurement for the experiment.
The measurement of upper body strength should be precise. What the experiment did was measure the circumference of the bicep of the dominant arm of subjects when flexed. This according to one study cited is a predictor of fighting ability and upper body strength. Measuring biceps does not give a precise measure of upper body strength. Hand grip measures have been used, but that may not be as precise either. The best measure would be to see how much each individual can bench press. Simply having large muscles does not automatically mean a person is stronger. It is related to the distribution of type II fast twitch muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are better suited for physical acts that require explosive power. It is possible a person with bigger muscles may not be as strong as a person with less depending on their exercise regimen.
It is obvious who has the bigger biceps. Just looking at a person’s body measurement and strength level would produce anything about economic and political convictions.
Making subjects do weight lifting exercise would give a better measure of upper body strength. This experimental model used was survey. It should be assumed that the answers given were honest ones, but sometimes that is not always the case. This problem also occurs in polling. One question that was not answered is if upper body strength is a predictor of economic or political views, would these change if a person increases their upper body strength? If this theory was credible, it would try an experiment in which it would document the subject’s political views prior to embarking on a strength building regimen. Then they should be observed if their political and economic views change based on changes to fitness level. This seems to be a question based in social science rather than biology. The study reached the conclusion that “as predicted, for men of high SES, the correlation between strength and support for redistribution was negative, whereas for men of low SES, the correlation was positive.” The results for women were completely different : ” regarding female subjects, nowhere was the interaction of upper-body strength and SES on support for economic redistribution statistically significant—Argentina: F(1, 87) = 1.38, p = .24; United States: F(1, 268) = 0.39, p = .54; Denmark: F(1, 366) = 0.12, p = .73 (two-tailed ps).” If this is the case more women should be more liberal in terms of economic and social equality. Yet, there are women who favor conservatism and neoliberal capitalism.
Amy Holmes and Michelle Malkin are notable female conservatives active in various media outlets and political circles. The stronger women in these picture have more upper body strength, but this does not predict their political and economic views.
Business Insider accurately explained that the results could be easily misinterpreted. The study explained further : “a key prediction derived from animal-conflict theory: Individuals with greater fighting ability (here, upper-body strength) should seek larger shares of contested resources. ” Then it makes the conclusion that “upper-body strength in modern adult men influences their willingness to bargain in their own self-interest over income and wealth redistribution.” Their seems to be an something that is missed here. It may be that people who see themselves or are more powerful are willing to bargain more. Such behavior merely means that people who are more powerful are willing to bully people in a weaker position. These findings mean that a ancient male behavior may be incompatible with democracy. This study has its limitations, but there is a major flaw. It may be reviving constitutional psychology.
Constitutional psychology was a theory that personality correlates to body type. The somatotypes were developed by William Sheldon in the 20th century. Looking at this study from 2013, one would reach the conclusion the men of higher socioeconomic status and more upper body strength would be more aggressive. Measuring biceps would not be the best why to figure out whether or not people favor redistribution. Pseudoscience has never disappeared, rather is revived during certain periods. It is unfortunate that media and websites were so ready to use the study to suit their political position. This study is based on a theory of animal conflict and asymmetric war of attrition model. While some elements may be credible it should be remembered that political and social systems of humanity are complex. There are historical and sciobiological reasons why men have higher aggression levels. Convictions and philosophy are molded by the culture and society in which people live. Aggression in men was seen as a way to protect states from other conquers, which is why men were the ones that went off to war. The industrial revolution made mass production possible, which allowed societies to produce commodities without constant invasion and conquest. The negative consequence of that was that consumer culture caused the growth of imperialism to meet the demands of the public desire for particular resources. The study does not consider these factor and almost suggest that rational choice theory should not be considered as large of a factor. Not considering these factors seems to suggest the dated and disproved constitutional psychology has some validity.
What needs to be understood about America in particular in terms of economics, is that there still is faith in a supply-side system. Wealth redistribution a large portion of Americans equate to socialism, which they assume is an awful political ideology. What they confuse it for is totalitarian stalinist communism, which many Marxists reject as a degeneration of revolutionary ideals. There are nations that already have social democratic systems such as Sweden, Norway, and Finland. There American citizens who believe they can pull themselves up from the boot straps and become wealthy. This dream has been more of a fantasy with growing gaps between the rich and poor. The study showed that the stronger the person was the more they are likely to favor their own economic self interest. As Business Insider articulated ” stronger men had stronger opinions about politics.” The problem with rational choice theory is that it does not really explain why working class whites favor a Republican Party that does more for the rich. This is partly fueled by racism, xenophobia, and the economic impact of globalization. This is why Donald Trump was successful was that he promotes a message of economic nationalism, while simultaneous playing on white working class race prejudice. The upper class gentry favors him mainly do to the fact taxes will be reduced for them and regulations will be curtailed. Supply-side economics place most of the financial burden on the poor and middle class. The welfare state is demonized as being the cause of America’s debt and deficit. This myth has become accepted, but the real cause is America’s growing military budget. Maintaining a global presence and military force has resulted in a higher federal income tax and funds that the US cannot pay back. Economic philosophy is not shaped by upper body strength, it has to do with region, community, politics, and culture. The American dream myth has a hold on both liberal and conservative voters and politicians. Many still embrace the neoliberal capitalist system even though it is failing.
Other variables could have influenced this study. Family structure influences political and economic ideology. This is the earliest form of political socialization. School also has an impact on an individual’s developing belief system. Even in democratic societies, their is a level of indoctrination in public schools. Children in elementary school are encourage to recite the pledge of allegiance and US history is emphasized over other social sciences. Community pressure and peer groups also influence political beliefs. There is also a divide among regions in the US. The US south has more of a conservative base due to the historical circumstances of the Civil War and the opposition to the federal government. Taking a look at Argentina, it was a country once ruled by a military junta. Under Operation Condor the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance unleashed a wave of state terrorism against leftists or anyone who was opposing the government. It should be no surprise that right-wing views still persist. Denmark through a majority of its history was a monarchy, with a period in which counts ruled. Liberal politics did not come to the country until the 19th century and its modern welfare state did not emerge until the early 20th century. Events and peer groups can influence pubic opinion. The three nations surveyed have different histories, which should be considered. It seems the study may demonstrate something else rather than what it was attempting to prove. Men are constantly competing for status, which has basis in ancestral behaviors from the human evolutionary past. Sexual dimorphism enabled men to be fighters for resources and seeing as physical confrontation no longer determines that in modern society, it changed form. These are merely theories in psychology and biology in which there is not enough data to state as fact. This topic requires more experimentation and research.