The Republican party's ideology has been characterized as "I've got mine, screw you." Now it seems antithesis to taxing the rich to pay for social services for others has an evolution-based correlation to male upper body strength.
Men's upper-body strength predicts their political opinions on economic redistribution, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
... the link may reflect psychological traits that evolved in response to our early ancestral environments and continue to influence behavior today.
"While many think of politics as a modern phenomenon, it has -- in a sense -- always been with our species," says Petersen.
In the days of our early ancestors, decisions about the distribution of resources weren't made in courthouses or legislative offices, but through shows of strength. With this in mind, Petersen, Sznycer and colleagues hypothesized that upper-body strength -- a proxy for the ability to physically defend or acquire resources -- would predict men's opinions about the redistribution of wealth.
... the data revealed that wealthy men with high upper-body strength were less likely to support redistribution, while less wealthy men of the same strength were more likely to support it.
"Our results demonstrate that physically weak males are more reluctant than physically strong males to assert their self-interest -- just as if disputes over national policies were a matter of direct physical confrontation among small numbers of individuals, rather than abstract electoral dynamics among millions," says Petersen.
Interestingly, the researchers found no link between upper-body strength and redistribution opinions among women. Petersen argues that this is likely due to the fact that, over the course of evolutionary history, women had less to gain, and also more to lose, from engaging in direct physical aggression.
"Despite the fact that the United States, Denmark and Argentina have very different welfare systems, we still see that -- at the psychological level -- individuals reason about welfare redistribution in the same way," says Petersen. "In all three countries, physically strong males consistently pursue the self-interested position on redistribution." [emphasis mine]
Pity we can't see the statistics.