The Corner

Study: Dan Foster Types More Likely to Be Conservatives

From the Daily Mail: ”Men who are physically strong are more likely to take a right wing political stance, while weaker men are inclined to support the welfare state, according to a new study.”

Researchers in Demark and California “collected data on bicep size, socio-economic status, and support for redistribution from hundreds of people in the United States, Argentina, and Denmark” and found that people with higher upper body strength are likelier to take a small-government approach, even controlling for wealth. 

The hypothesis is that physically stronger men were more assertive about their “self interest” in an era when disputes about resource distribution were physical, and took place at a tribal instead of institutional level. While I find that plausible, I will note that although upper-body strength seems a decent enough proxy for one’s ability to win (or prevent) fights, bicep size probably isn’t the best proxy for upper-body strength, both because you can add mass without adding strength (don’t I know it) and because biceps are showy muscles that aren’t as important as, say, abdomimals or obliques when it comes to beating your fellow cave dwellers into submission. 

I also take some issue with the way they phrase the result:

Professor Petersen said: ‘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.

It would be just as plausible to conclude from the data that physically weak males are asserting their self-interest in voicing support for resource distribution. If strength is tied to resource security, and weakness to resource insecurity, it makes sense for the weak to hold views that, if enacted, would increase their resource security. Or as Nietzsche puts it, both more elegantly and more brutally: ”All sick pathological people, in their desire to shake off a stifling lack of enthusiasm and a feeling of weakness, instinctively strive for the organization of a herd.”

Daniel FosterDaniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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