Political Affiliation as a Predictor of Physiological Response to Political Statements
Journal of Advanced Student Sciences (JASS)
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The purpose of this study is to measure the physiological response when presented with aversive statements compared to agreeable statements while using politics as a vehicle. Using anonymous students from the Spring 2016 Physiology 435 course at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, a political label was assigned to each participant using a pre-experiment survey that allowed us to predict which statements each individual would react aversely to. Each participant was read five liberal, five conservative, one positive control, and one negative control statements while their heart rate, respiration rate, and sweat response were measured. We hypothesized that subjects would experience an increase in heart rate, respiration rate, and sweat response when presented with political statements that support the oppositely affiliated label. While a significant increase in heart rate was observed, the electrodermal activity and respiratory rate results were insignificant; therefore, our hypothesis was not supported. Further research exposing participants to more provocative statements could provide more insight into the role of the fight-or-flight response to disagreement.