Bicep Size Predicts Politics

BicepsCredit: Laures: DreamstimeA new study in Psychological Science reports that bicep size and preferences for wealth redistribution correlate. If you're rich and have big guns you're against redistribution. On the other hand, if you're poor and muscle bound, you favor redistribution. The idea is that more upper body strength rouses a man (the effect was not found in women) to defend his self-interests, e.g, protect what you have if you're rich and try to grab more, if you're poor. In contrast, the rich 98-pound weaklings were less interested in preventing redistribution and the poor shrimps were less concerned about trying take from the rich. As the abstract of the article, "The Ancestral Logic of Politics: Upper Body Strength Regulates Men's Assertion of Self-Interest Over Economic Redistribution," reads:

Over human evolutionary history, upper-body strength has been a major component of fighting ability. Evolutionary models of animal conflict predict that actors with greater fighting ability will more actively attempt to acquire or defend resources than less formidable contestants will. Here, we applied these models to political decision making about redistribution of income and wealth among modern humans. In studies conducted in Argentina, Denmark, and the United States, men with greater upper-body strength more strongly endorsed the self-beneficial position: Among men of lower socioeconomic status (SES), strength predicted increased support for redistribution; among men of higher SES, strength predicted increased opposition to redistribution. Because personal upper-body strength is irrelevant to payoffs from economic policies in modern mass democracies, the continuing role of strength suggests that modern political decision making is shaped by an evolved psychology designed for small-scale groups.

Hmmm. It's probably too much to conclude that a lot of our political problems could be solved if we could persuade our egalitarian buddies to stay away from the gym.

Disclosure: What are biceps? And yet I abhor redistribution.

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  • RightNut||

    Hmmm. It's probably too much to conclude that a lot of our political problems could be solved if we could persuade our egalitarian buddies to stay away from the gym.

    Or you could raise the price of a gym membership so the poor couldn't work out....just sayin.

  • Rasilio||

    I thought they already did that

  • Restoras||

    Isn't that what prison is for?

  • Irish||

    So this is pseudoscientific evolutionary psychology nonsense, correct?

  • MOFO.||

    ^This. This is to science what Carly Rae Jepsom is to music.

  • mnarayan||

    But this isn't awesome at all?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Sure sounds like it.

  • mnarayan||

    At least from the abstract, yes. Maybe even sillier:

    Because personal upper-body strength is irrelevant to payoffs from economic policies in modern mass democracies, the continuing role of strength suggests that modern political decision making is shaped by an evolved psychology designed for small-scale groups.

    Even if you accept evolutionary biology/psychology explanations, I don't see any reason to assume that the "political decision making" process is group-size specialized at all. Though I haven't read the article so maybe I look like an idiot to anyone who has.

  • Robert||

    I wouldn't dismiss it so quickly, although its coming from Sage Publications suggests a degree of left tendency.

    Intuitively I have trouble inferring that the brain would "plug in" a function from pre-civilized, probably pre-human, times related to use of force to a program or circuit relating to democracy. Seems facile, like most attempts to figure sexual orientation to be determined by genetics.

  • Darwin||

    The argument is quite consistent with evolutionary biological principles, far more so than standard social science. In short:

    In almost all primates better fighters are more aggressive and "entitled", i.e. demand more access to food, mate, territory, etc.

    In humans there is now a large body of evidence that physically strong men behave differently than physically weak men (see a paper called The Importance of Physical Strength to Human Males by Sell.) One consistent finding is that stronger men feel more entitled and generally will defend their own interests.

    Political scientists have been puzzled by the inability of rational choice to predict political outcomes. One possibility is that physically strong men, being more entitled, will vote in more self-serving ways. Whereas weaker males will feel uncomfortable imposing on others.

    Analyzed without the complications of macroeconomics, income redistribution is a conflict of interest between the rich and poor. Therefore, poor strong men and weak rich men should be in favor of it. Weak poor men and strong rich men should be against it.

    Those predictions were all confirmed.

    Women do not appear to differ in personality based on strength; either in this study or in many others.

    Incidentally, bicep circumference was used because previous research showed it was the best single predictor of weight lifting strength.

  • sarcasmic||

    Hat tip to OldMexican?

  • Ron Bailey||

    s: Actually this sent to me by another reader who prefers not to hat tipped. Missed OM's post.

  • sarcasmic||

    Fair enough.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    A reader who doesn't like hts? This story is full of holes.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Probably an administration official.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: sarcasmic,

    Hat tip to OldMexican?


    Thanks, but it was already in the Newsfeed by the time I posted mine.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "It's probably too much to conclude that a lot of our political problems could be solved if we could persuade our egalitarian buddies to stay away from the gym."

    Or get our bobo progressive buddies to pump up.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    The solution to progressivism in America:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvpKouRTCx0

  • Pro Libertate||

    So a rich Warty would be the most dangerous anti-statist conceivable, is that what you're telling me?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    The ultimate liberty machine.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Listen, and understand. That wartinator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until your government is dead.

  • ||

    FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE

  • Pro Libertate||

    Get out.

  • Loki||

    He was probably on PCP. Broke every bone in his hand and wouldn't feel it for hours. There was this guy once, you see this scar?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Say, aren't you an android?

  • ||

    I miss PCP, it made average news cycles fun.

    Man jumps out of 8th story window and flees from cops with shin bones sticking out at odd angles, pauses occasionally to throw small cars at police.

  • ||

    Well, let's send him some fucking money already then! What will his superhero name be? SuperWarty? Wartyman? The Green Warty? Aquaman?

  • mnarayan||

    Wouldn't he just return it (at least after he got all the money)? And then want it back after he returned it?

    It seems like the catch-22 might well kill him.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Definitely Aquaman!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Mr. Wartytastic?

    The Warty ("It's ________ time - hint, not "clobberin'")

    The Human Warty (nah, nobody would believe that)

  • ||

    His motto will be "sun's out...GUNS OUT" and then he will take off his shirt and flex.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    What about at night?

  • ||

    "It's a full moon tonight!" and then he drops his pants and squats.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    +1 satellite

  • Restoras||

    thom won't mind since he'll be changing his brat's diaper cheese right next to you. Just clean up when you're done.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    And he wields the mighty Warthammer against his foes.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    "It's time to kick ass and redistribute money... and I'm all out of money."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Flex-ray vision!

  • ||

    Can't wait to get rich off tank top sales.

  • ||

    The orange...it burns...

  • ||

    I didn't think it'd be that bad, then I clicked the link. Now I see spots.

  • ||

    SUN'S OUT GUNS OUT OH YEAAAAAH

    You were warned.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    And who will be his arch-nemesis? Tony the kitten killer?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Statist Man!

  • Stormy Dragon||

    No, "Statist Man" is both sexist and emphasizes individual action to strongly. They prefer to be called "Statist Committee".

  • Loki||

    Statist Soviet.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    NEW SOVIET MAN!

  • ||

    SugarFree already coined it the other day: The Adventures of Warty Hugeman.

  • ||

    Shut up, Aquaman.

  • ||

    "Come, Swallow!"

  • SugarFree||

    Flashback: The Incarnations of Wartitude.

    SugarFree| 7.2.09 @ 5:49PM |#

    Well, there was Golden Age Warty, who carried and gun and beat up union organizers. And the Silver Age Warty with the crew cut and the embarrassing racist caricature sidekick. The disco-era Warty with the bellbottoms and "enchanted afro." There was that brief period of time when you were a herald of Galactus. The late-80s half-cyborg Warty. The horrible dark-age Warty Image reboot with all the black leather and sex midgets. And we won't even talk about what Grant Morrison did to you, what with the evil twin you ate in the womb who manifested himself when you touched your magic tattoo.

    To all tomorrow's Warties...
  • Irish||

    Are you really flashing back to your own post? That's like laughing at your own joke or giving yourself a nickname.

    I expected better from you.

  • ||

    Maybe you expected better.

  • SugarFree||

    I guess I could have just repeated myself without attribution, like some people do.

  • Irish||

    It's not my fault if I'm constantly repeating myself. I only have a few dozen phrases I know how to say, per the factory's instructions.

    If you pull Irish's string, I'll say one of any number of not-at-all racially offensive phrases. Phrases like 'Irish wants some whiskey!,' 'My wife is pregnant again,' 'ALL OF MY POTATOES HAVE ROTTED!,' or 'Never trust a papist.'

  • SugarFree||

    It's not my fault if I'm constantly repeating myself.

    I find it interesting that you thought I was talking about you. Why do you think that is? Is this a common fear, that all general statements are directed at you? Do you sometimes feel as if you are often being discussed?

    I think we need to met twice at week to help you work through these issues. Are Mondays and Thursdays at 2 good for you?

  • Irish||

    Wait, people around here talk about things unrelated to me? I'm not the center of your universe? No. No, that can't be true.

  • SugarFree||

    Lie down on the couch if that will make you feel more comfortable.

  • ||

    Is that the same couch you use for casting purposes?

  • SugarFree||

    I take the plastic covering off for patients.

  • Irish||

    Well then you should probably leave the plastic on...

  • Loki||

    You're so vain, you probably think this comment's about you.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I do that on occasion, but my motive is to avoid someone telling me that I'd already said that. Of course, I repeat myself all the time here, anyway, so why do I bother?

  • ||

    Say something once, why say it again?

  • Pro Libertate||

    For it is the doom of man that he forgets. And woman, too.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Warty Hugeman
    Qu'est-ce que c'est?

  • ||

    Yes, that's perfect.

    Run run run run, run run run AWAY!

  • SugarFree||

  • ||

    That site is monstrous, SF. You need to be put to sword, and the building with your server in it razed to the ground.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    But you are short than joe!

  • db||

  • OldMexican||

    Among men of lower socioeconomic status (SES), strength predicted increased support for redistribution; among men of higher SES, strength predicted increased opposition to redistribution.


    Yeah, that explains von Mises to a T...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Amongst the "wealthy" it appears that personal physical strength is irrelevant in determining socialist tendencies. Amongst the lovers-not-fighters, it is wealth that was not a factor. That's interesting.

    What about intellectual capabilities. People can defend themselves and their belongings with a strong intellect rather brute force. JUST LOOK AT CAPTAIN KIRK VERSUS THE GORN CAPTAIN. (Boom, nailed you with a Trek reference.)

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Alternatively, Khan's superior intellect lost to the same Captain Kirk. Perhaps it is in fact pure sex appeal that best correlates with redistribution views?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Khan also had HUGE pecs. Complete wild card which must be discarded as anomalous.

  • db||

    What I find anomalous is that Khan somehow got himself appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Just what do you think 'human services' means?

  • db||

    Some days it seems possible that Progressives have not really renounced their love of eugenics and want to hold the reins of health care for a reason.

  • ||

    This may be my last entry. I am almost exhausted. Unless I find the weapon the Metron mentioned, I have very little time left. Native sulfur, diamonds...this place is a mineralogist's dream! Yet...there is something about sulfur...something very old. Something...if only I could remember.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The Gorn had some big biceps. Lizard libertarian?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He was just protecting his real estate, Cestus III.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    He didn't seem to have any monocles though.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Have you watched the remastered version?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Have you watched the remastered version?

    Kirk shot first.

  • Pro Libertate||

    When Abrams gets around to rebooting that episode, the Gorn will have a cannon, too. With lens flaring capabilities.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Built into his giant, multifacted eyeballs.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oops, multifaceted.

  • Brandon||

    How was that not brute force? Nothing is stronger than a two-handed punch.

  • Fatty Bolger||

  • Pro Libertate||

    It worked, didn't it? Except for Captain Tracy, Kirk could beat up anyone, anytime.

  • Loki||

    Correlation = Causation! It's Teh Sciense!

    What a load of bullshit.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think any causal link is being proposed, is there? Correlation can suggest other interesting things besides the one causing the other.
    Still, I agree on the load of bullshit assessment as far as any scientific validity goes.

  • OldMexican||

    The researchers collected data on bicep size, socioeconomic status, and support for economic redistribution from hundreds of people in the United States, Argentina, and Denmark.

    In line with their hypotheses, the data revealed that wealthy men with high upper-body strength were less likely to support redistribution, while less wealthy men of the same strength were more likely to support it.


    The scientific methodology called "finding the correct hole for this peg I have in my hand."

  • ||

    In all seriousness, I've long noticed a wide libertarian streak among Huges. I don't think it's there by accident. It takes a ton of work to become gigantic, and while people can help you along the way, fundamentally it's all on you. Oops, excuse me, I mean it's all you, bro.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Steroid-induced rage and brain damage. Classic case.

  • Brett L||

    What's the dude in the back for? Making sure he's squeezing his glutes right from the inside?

  • ||

    It's the old partner-cheat-curl-anus-stretch-squeeze. A classic bodybuilding exercise.

  • Restoras||

    If you're rich and have big guns you're against redistribution


    In other words: I worked hard for both, so fuck off.

    if you're poor and muscle bound, you favor redistribution


    In other words: Fuck off. I'm bigger than you so give me your lunch money.

    the rich 98-pound weaklings were less interested in preventing redistribution


    In other words: I'll still be rich if the government takes some of my money - becasue I am rich enough to buy influence, or just leave if I want too, so fuck off.

    poor shrimps were less concerned about trying take from the rich


    In other words: Fuck off. I am too lazy to give a crap.

  • ||

    Masterfully done. It is "fuck off"'s all the way down.

  • SugarFree||

    How's your visit to colon going? [hurr hurr]

  • ||

    You are not even the first person to make that joke to me today. :-(

    It is *almost* like being in the tropics, except you have to wear business attire and they are rationing electricity, so A/C is at a minimum. And "apparently" drinking mai tais during meetings is "frowned upon."

  • SugarFree||

    Sounds like a brute and savage land.

  • ||

    Do they at least have siestas down there?

  • sulphurbottom||

    If you're rich and have big guns you're against redistribution. On the other hand, if you're poor and muscle bound, you favor redistribution.

    How does this show a correlation between muscle-bound-ness and views on redistribution???

  • Zeb||

    I think the idea is that it correlates how vigorously you fight for your own immediate self interest (as defined by the people who wrote the paper).

  • sulphurbottom||

    Don't they also need to show that being poor and being rich do not correlate with views on redistribution?

    Or did they and I missed it?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    The point is that the correlation makes a bigger impact when you have big guns.

  • db||

    Isn't "biceps" the singular?

  • ||

    Not if you're going to be fashion-y. "That bicep would look so much better with freedom" is the new "That pant would look great with a nude heel."

  • Zeb||

    For some reason seeing "pant" written on a package containing a pair of pants makes me angry. When did that start anyway?

  • Mensan||

    Yes, biceps is singular. Biceps is usually used as the plural as well, although it's actually bicepites.

  • ||

    I'm amazed that no one else seems to have objected to their using bicep size as their measure for upper body strength. My understanding is that these are not strongly correlated, and that a better measure would have been 1 rep max military press, 1 rep max bench press, max reps of continuous strict form pull ups, or pretty much anything that's not fucking biceps you goddamn morons.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    To me it is hard to test their hypothesis without adding huge bias. They just define everything so that they get the results they want.

  • Mensan||

    Also, are they actually measuring just biceps size or the entire upper arm? Two-thirds of the muscle mass of the upper arm is the triceps after all.

  • Darwin||

    The assumption is based on data in a paper called "Formidability and the logic of human anger." Flexed bicep circumference was the best single predictor of weight lifting strength.

    Getting 500 Danes into a gym to work out was cost prohibitive, so they used the best cheapest measure available.

  • prolefeed||

    Because personal upper-body strength is irrelevant to payoffs from economic policies in modern mass democracies, the continuing role of strength suggests that modern political decision making is shaped by an evolved psychology designed for small-scale groups.

    They may be measuring an effect, not a cause. If they measured testosterone levels in the men, they would likely find a correlation between high testosterone and high upper body muscle mass.

    So what they perhaps ought to have found if they looked into it in more detail is that men with lots of testosterone poisoning are more aggressive, and that translates into aggression in politics.

  • Feanor78||

    I have 18 inch biceps, could be classified as poor, and I don't want anyone else's money...

  • GILMORE||

    Disclosure: What are biceps? And yet I abhor redistribution.

    (golf clap for disclosure-quality)

    Biceps? come now Ron, they're the things we use to get a beer glass to mouth level. They serve no other noticeable purpose.

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