November 07, 2004

Election Health

Earlier today, Ed said, "It would be interesting to see if anyone has done studies on the health effects of elections..." Well, to some extent, they have. Here's a few:

  • This article in the American Journal of Community Psychology comes closest to addressing Ed's question. Researchers questioned a group of LBG Coloradoans on their response to the passage of an antigay amentment in 1992 (including a followup study after the Supreme Court's 1996 decision on the amendment). The researchers then identified a set of "stressor elements" ("Felt sad following the election on 11/3/92", LGBs no chance to grieve losses associated with A2", "Disagreements about best strategies for change", "Felt scared of the power of the religious right", "Lost faith that people are good and moral", etc.) and "resilience elements" ("Forced me to look at my beliefs about self community, politics, etc.", "Opportunity for all members of LGB community to work toward a common goal", "Felt supported by heterosexual public figures who came out against A2", etc.). Unsurprisingly, given the source, the data analysis concerns the LBG community more than the emotional response of individual members.
  • Here's a study exploring the opposite question: can the emotional states of voters have a substantive effect on election? The study examined shifts in suicide and parasuicide rates on opposition party victories in Austria, hypothesizing that "on a community level, suicide's aftermath might produce socially and politically alienated survivors of suicide who co-shape swings towards opposition parties in subsequent general elections."
  • This extremely promising-sounding article ("Effects of United States presidential elections on suicide and other causes of death.") is unfortunately not available online, but would appear to address the question.

  • This article ("Sociopolitical events and technical innovations may affect the content of delusions and the course of psychotic disorders.") argues that shared stressors (like elections can play some role int he progress of certain disorders.

Posted by Susan at November 7, 2004 11:00 PM
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