CYBERSPACE—A just-released study conducted by a husband-and-wife team of psychologists found that porn searches surge following national elections in states that voted for the winning candidate. The researchers are not particularly sure why that happens, but they thought the results were interesting enough to have them published on the Evolution and Human Behavior website.
The abstract on the site reads, “The current study examined whether or not individuals who vicariously win a competition seek out pornography relatively more often than individuals who vicariously lose a competition. By examining a portion of Google keyword searches during the 2004, 2006 and 2008 US election cycles, the relative popularity of online pornography keywords searches was computed for each state and the District of Columbia the week before and the week after each election.
“Consistent with the Challenge Hypothesis, following all three election cycles, individuals located in states voting for the winning political party tended to search for pornography keywords relatively more often than individuals residing in states voting for the losing political party.”
“We don't know for sure if testosterone is the reason why we are seeing these changes in porn-seeking behavior, but it seems like the best explanation at the moment,” said Villanova University’s Patrick Markey, who worked on the study with his wife, Charlotte Markey of Rutgers University.
“If we saw this just for one election, you might chalk it up to chance, but we saw a pattern with it happening three times,” Markey told LiveScience.com. "It's also cool that we saw these results with both Republicans and Democrats—that these were general results not just driven by one political party."
The researchers had devised the study after looking at past research showing that people who win or lose in competitions often experience a respective surge or drop in testosterone.
“Such changes are seen even if the people are only spectators of contests,” reported Live Science. “For instance, while men typically show a slight nighttime drop in testosterone levels, male voters for Sen. John McCain showed a larger testosterone drop than normal during the 2008 U.S. presidential election, while those of male voters for Sen. Barack Obama kept steady.”
The Markeys then postulated that men who voted for winning candidates might likewise experience a desire for sexual stimulation. They focused their study on internet searches, where up to 25 percent of daily searches are for porn-related keywords, and men make up a vast majority of visitors to porn sites.
They used Google to configure their search patters and results, and “looked up the popularity of pornography searches in ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states—those voting for Republicans and Democrats, respectively—in the week before and the week after the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections and the 2006 midterm elections.”
While unsure exactly why the results turned out the way they did, the researchers addressed the obvious suggestion that maybe winners are simply happy and thus more prone to seeking out other pleasurable stimuli, like sex. Unfortunately, there is no correlation between happiness and sex. In fact, according to Patrick Markey, research shows that they are often mutually exclusive.
"This is probably because for some people, sex is something we do not do to celebrate our moods but to change them—when we are sad, we have sex to make ourselves happy," he said.