Richard Harper consistently links to interesting articles on Twitter. He passed this one along discussing physical dominance and ‘the 47%’. From the article at Psychological Science which suggests that our physiology may shape our politics and our philosophy:
Happily, we’ve evolved far beyond that brutish norm. Or have we? A team of psychological scientists is now arguing that we are more stuck in our evolutionary past than we like to admit. We may debate civilly and settle our differences in the voting booth, but is it possible that physical prowess still shapes our positions on this fundamental social issue?
Evolutionary psychologists Michael Bang Petersen of Denmark’s Aarhus University and Daniel Sznycer of the University of California, Santa Barbara, decided to explore this provocative idea in the laboratory. They wanted to see if the idea of redistribution still lingers in the modern mind, activating a fundamental—and aggressive—conflict over scarce resources.
Their study was simple. They collected information on upper body strength, socioeconomic status, and support for redistribution policies in three countries—Denmark, Argentina and the U.S. When they crunched all this data together, they found that, yes, men who were economically privileged and also physically strong were opposed to wealth redistribution. By contrast, strong men who were disadvantaged—they favored redistribution policies. In other words, men with physical prowess favored whatever policy increased their share of society’s wealth. This was found in all three countries studied, and the finding remained robust with controls for age, exercise and political ideology.
This is something I’ve recently touched on. Paul Ryan’s recent exposure as a fitness buff provides at least one example of this correlation – though guys like Newt Gingrich completely undermine the theory.