Why stars from action movies are more likely to be Republican
New research explains why buff Hollywood actors tend to support Republican positions on foreign policy.
Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 05:47 AM
THE GOVERNATOR: Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the more prominent Republican action stars. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
Hollywood actors on the whole tend to identify as Democrats, but stars from action movies seem to buck that trend and instead support Republican positions, especially when it comes to foreign policy. Now a new study out of Griffith University in Australia offers an explanation, reports Phys.org.
According to researcher Aaron Sell, who led the study, the buffer a man is — and the more adept he is at fighting — the more likely he is to support aggressive Republican positions on foreign policy. The concept that action stars disproportionately identify as Republican among Hollywood actors is just part of this larger trend.
Sell's theory is that human males evolved to be the stronger sex because they used physical aggression to compete for status. The better designed our male ancestors were at fighting, the more likely they were to achieve a higher social status, and thus impress a mate. Sell presents as evidence a medley of features beyond superior upper body strength to support his thesis: males also tend to have an increased ability to dissipate heat, perceive and respond rapidly to threats, estimate the trajectory of thrown objects, resist blunt-force trauma and accurately intercept objects.
To Sell, all of these enhanced traits share one thing in common: they all improve a man's fighting ability.
Sell also cites multiple studies conducted on men from vastly different cultures, which show that physically strong men also have a greater sense of entitlement, are quicker to anger, and are more likely to show aggression when angry. Usually these traits are associated with higher testosterone, but Sell found that physical strength was actually two to four times more correlated with aggressive behavior than heightened testosterone levels.
To see how physical strength correlates with political attitudes, Sell's team looked at a sampling of Hollywood stars who are known for their brawn: action stars. Sure enough, stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone were more likely to support military action.
Hollywood actors make a particularly poignant demographic for this study principally because as a group, they are typically Democrats, Sell thought.
"Upper body strength in adult males is a crucial variable that appears to have impacts on a wide range of mental mechanisms. These mechanisms were designed by natural selection at a time when personal physical aggression was far more common and individual differences in fighting ability were far more relevant for the resolution of conflicts," said Sell. "Despite the steady decline in physical aggression and violent deaths that have accompanied Western civilization, the human mind is still designed for ancestral environments."