An Online Porn Traffic Surge in Red States?

NOVEMBER 3, 2010

It’s a good day for porn in the red states of America. According to a new study in this month’s Evolution and Human Behavior, researchers expect a significant increase in Google search terms like “xvideo,” “tits,” and “boobs” in states in that voted Republican in yesterday’s midterm elections—and a significant decrease in those that voted Democrat.* This phenomenon is likely because victory increases testosterone levels, creating a biological impulse to go out and spread one’s seed.

This isn’t just true for the participants in competitions, but for spectators as well. Evolutionarily, in response to winning a competition testosterone increases in a way that encourages reproductive behaviour, including wanting a variety of sexual partners.  Not everyone can run around inseminating all the maidens in the village though, and in this modern era viewing online pornography is one way that this impulse can express itself.

So if elections leave some voters feeling victorious, then we would expect to see this behavior dominate in regions where the majority were rooting for the winning side. According to this research, that is exactly what we have seen in the past three major elections in the U.S. In the week following the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Google searches for pornography increased above the average for the year in red states and fell in blue states. After the midterm elections in 2006, when the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Google search terms for porn increased in blue states—and fell (rather dramatically) in red states. And in the week following the 2008 presidential election, porn searches were up again in the blue states and down again in the red states.

Now, it is the red states’ turn to celebrate, and what better way to do it than look at boobs online?

Personally, I am fascinated by the behavior of the losers. At first, I thought maybe after seeing their party lose control of the government they were just too sad for porn. But no, the losers actually experience a decrease in testosterone levels, causing them to reduce their reproductive-enhancing behavior. Another study,** released last year, finds that following the 2008 U.S. presidential election the testosterone levels of male voters who favored John McCain and Sarah Palin fell immediately following the election. Republican supporters in 2008 effectively experienced the equivalent of an electoral chemical castration.

This post originally appeared on my original blog Dollars and Sex at Big Think.

* Markeya, Patrick M. and  Charlotte N. Markey (2010). “Changes in pornography-seeking behaviors following political elections: an examination of the challenge hypothesis.” Evolution and Human Behavior 31: pp. 442–446. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2010.06.004

**Stanton SJ, Beehner JC, Saini EK, Kuhn CM, LaBar KS (2009) “Dominance, Politics, and Physiology: Voters’ Testosterone Changes on the Night of the 2008 United States Presidential Election.” PLoS ONE 4(10): e7543. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007543

I would like to thank Anatoliy Gruzd in the School of Information Management at Dalhousie University for sending me this article.

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