Voting causes physical and psychological stress, inducing measurable hormonal changes, say researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).
"We understand that emotional changes are related and affect various physiological processes, but we were surprised that voting in democratic elections causes emotional reactions accompanied by such physical and psychological stress that can easily influence our decision making," said Prof. Hagit Cohen from the Anxiety and Stress Research Unit at BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences.
In a study, researchers found that the level of cortisol - a hormone secreted in times of stress to help the body cope with threats - was nearly three times higher just before voting than the cortisol level of the control group, and nearly twice their level 21 months later.
It is known that when a person is in a state of stress, threat or emotional distress, the body releases a series of hormones such as cortisol, known as the "stress hormone".
The study also found that people were more emotionally aroused just before casting their ballot.
The study will be published in the print journal, European Neuropsychopharmacology.