Muscular Men Prefer Inequality

Ray Williams
3 min readFeb 19, 2024

Image source:

Summary: A study reports that physicality and political attitudes may be linked for men. Researchers found more muscular men tend to prefer political attitudes that favor inequality, and the tendency to have positive attitudes toward inequality increased as upper body strength increased following months of physical training. The study, researchers report, challenges the conventional belief that people’s political views are shaped by logic and reason alone.

In a comprehensive exploration published in Political Psychology, Professors Michael Bang Petersen and Lasse Laustsen from the Department of Political Science at Aarhus University unveiled a correlation between men’s physical strength and political attitudes towards inequality.

The study presents evidence suggesting that men with greater upper body strength are more inclined to support political views that endorse societal inequality and are less supportive of resource redistribution. This inclination intensifies with increased physical strength, as observed over months of strength training. Petersen states, “The results challenge the belief that our political views are formed by logic and reason alone. Instead, our views seemingly reflect intuitions produced by a Stone Age mind.”

Drawing from a vast dataset encompassing 6,349 individuals across various nationalities, including Danish, Belarusians in Lithuania, Americans, Venezuelans, Ukrainians, and Poles, gathered between 2012 and 2017, the study is highlighted as the most extensive and reliable. This research challenges traditional notions that political ideologies are purely products of rational deliberation and integrates theories of evolutionary biology and animal behavior into the analysis of political attitudes. Specifically, the study argues that the evolutionary predispositions shaped during the hunter-gatherer era continue to influence modern political thought, particularly among men.

Laustsen elucidates, “This logic was adaptive under the conditions of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, as stronger men here would have been able to secure resources on their own. But it’s an irrational way of dealing with modern-day political resource conflicts.” Furthermore, the researchers propose that this dynamic may explain why some financially disadvantaged men oppose policies that would ostensibly benefit them through greater resource redistribution.

Interestingly, the study finds no analogous correlation between physical strength and political attitudes towards inequality among women. This distinction supports the hypothesis that human political behavior, to some extent, is governed by ancient instincts, with gender-specific evolutionary strategies influencing these attitudes.

The researchers also contemplate the directionality of the relationship between physical strength and political attitudes, acknowledging that individuals with certain political inclinations might be more inclined towards physical fitness endeavors. Yet, they argue that the preponderance of evidence suggests that physical strength significantly predicts attitudes toward inequality.

Previous studies have explored the correlation between men’s physical strength and their attitude toward the level of equality in society. However, the results pointed in different directions. In a former study, Michael Bang Petersen found that physical strength only increased support towards inequality among wealthy men. At the same time, it decreased support for inequality among men of limited financial means.

“This study builds on a much larger data set, and our measurement of physical strength is more objective than in the previous study. In an international context, this is the most comprehensive study of its kind, and it shows a consistent positive correlation between men’s physical strength and their attitude towards inequality,” says Petersen, who, apart from his position at Aarhus BSS is also affiliated with the interdisciplinary Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies.

This ground-breaking study, according to Petersen, underscores the necessity of incorporating perspectives from evolutionary biology and animal behavior into political science to comprehend the underpinnings of political attitudes fully. “Our skulls house a Stone Age mind, and we must appreciate that we are just one animal species among a host of others. Also in our approach to modern politics,” concludes Laustsen, emphasizing the enduring impact of evolutionary history on contemporary political orientations.

Other studies which have examined the political attitudes of far -right and extremist males who follow groups such as MAGA have found a correlation between far-right views and imposing muscular physiques.



Ray Williams

Author/ Executive Coach-Helping People Live Better Lives and Serve Others