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Psychol Sci. 2011 Feb;22(2):235-42. doi: 10.1177/0956797610393746. Epub 2010 Dec 21.

Participating in politics resembles physical activity: general action patterns in international archives, United States archives, and experiments.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi, 730 East Beach Blvd., Long Beach, MS 39560, USA.


A series of studies examined whether political participation can emerge from general patterns of indiscriminate activity. In the first two studies, general action tendencies were measured by combining national and state-level indicators of high activity (e.g., impulsiveness, pace of life, and physical activity) from international and U.S. data. This action-tendency index positively correlated with a measure of political participation that consisted of voting behaviors and participation in political demonstrations. The following two experimental studies indicated that participants exposed to action words (e.g., go, move) had stronger intentions to vote in an upcoming election and volunteered more time to make phone calls on behalf of a university policy than participants exposed to inaction words did (e.g., relax, stop). These studies suggest that political participation can be predicted from general tendencies toward activity present at the national and state levels, as well as from verbal prompts suggestive of activity.

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