Department of Political Science

Upper-Body Strength and Political Egalitarianism: Twelve Conceptual Replications

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Animal models of conflict behavior predict that an organism's behavior in a conflict situation is influenced by physical characteristics related to abilities to impose costs on adversaries. Stronger and larger organisms should be more motivated to seek larger shares of resources and higher places in hierarchies. Previous studies of human males have suggested that measures of upper-body strength are associated with measures of support for inequality including Social Dominance Orientation (SDO), a measure of individual differences in support for group-based hierarchies. However, other studies have failed to replicate this association. In this article, we reexamine the link between upper-body strength and support for inequality using 12 different samples from multiple countries in which relevant measures were available. These samples include student and locally representative samples with direct measures of physical strength and nationally representative samples with self-reported measures related to muscularity. While the predicted correlation does not replicate for every single available measure of support for inequality, the overall data pattern strongly suggests that for males, but not females, upper-body strength correlates positively with support for inequality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Psychology
Pages (from-to)375-394
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • biopolitics, egalitarianism, evolutionary psychology, physical strength, social dominance orientation

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