This newly published study, done by marketing experts at two universities, demonstrates how you can, if you like, make simple, clear sense of complicated, not-well-understood biological/medical/psychological/political phenomena:
“The Fluctuating Female Vote — Politics, Religion, and the Ovulatory Cycle,” Kristina M. Durante [pictured here], Ashley Rae, Vladas Griskevicius [also pictured here], Psychological Science, epub April 23, 2013. The authors, at the University of Texas, San Antonio’s Department of Marketing and at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, explain:
“Each month, many women experience an ovulatory cycle that regulates fertility. Although research has found that this cycle influences women’s mating preferences, we proposed that it might also change women’s political and religious views. Building on theory suggesting that political and religious orientation are linked to reproductive goals, we tested how fertility influenced women’s politics, religiosity, and voting in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. In two studies with large and diverse samples, ovulation had drastically different effects on single women and women in committed relationships. Ovulation led single women to become more liberal, less religious, and more likely to vote for Barack Obama. In contrast, ovulation led women in committed relationships to become more conservative, more religious, and more likely to vote for Mitt Romney.”
Co-authors Durante and Griskevicius have also, together and singly, published simple, clear explanations of other complicated matters. Researchers in the fields of biology, medicine, psychology and politics might gain insight from studying how Durante and Griskevicius manage to reduce complexity into simplicity.
(Thanks to investigator Geoffrey Miller for bringing this to our attention.)
BONUS: We have a regular column (in the Annals of Improbable Research) called “Soft Is Hard — Further evidence why the “soft” sciences are the hardest to do well”.