Voting not only affects the state of democracy but also the health of the voters. The effects on health are usually very subtle but the consequences can be significant for the individual. Voting can cause stress, hormonal changes, affect sex drive, behaviour changes including rash driving and even suicidal tendencies.
Elections are taxing not only for the campaigners and candidates, but also for voters according to a study undertaken by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of Israel and the University of Haifa. Increased levels of the hormone cortisol were found in voters as they were about to cast their vote. One of the researcher said that the high stress level before the casting of vote can influence the voter’s decision.
Although there was no rise in testosterone levels detected in voters who picked the winning side, researchers from Rutgers University found that internet searches for pornography picked up after the announcement of election result.
Stanford University researchers report that fatal car crashes rise by 18 percent on the day of the Election as compared to days when polls are not taking place. The reasons cited by the researchers include emotional upheaval, travelling on new paths for going to the polling booth, and a tendency to employ unskilled drivers.
A study on suicide rates following an election, undertaken by Richard Dunn between 1981 and 2005, was published in 2010. The intriguing finding of the research was that regardless of the winning or losing, suicide rates increased only when the majority did not pick the loser or winner. In other words, suicide rates dipped when the majority picked a loser, as well as when they picked a winner.
According to Dunn, this behaviour can be attributed to the feeling of social cohesion that voters in a community have. This bond of sharing is reinforced regardless of the result. The real winner in this case is the unity and empathy that people have about living together. On the other hand, voters living in a community where their beliefs and values are not shared by the majority feel more isolated, no matter what the result.
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