Political Science, Department of



K. B. Smith http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0312-2284

Date of this Version



Smith KB, Hibbing MV, Hibbing JR (2019) Friends, relatives, sanity, and health: The costs of politics. PLoS ONE 14(9): e0221870.



Copyright: © 2019 Smith et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License,


Political scientists have long known that political involvement exacts costs but they have typically defined these costs in relatively narrow, largely economic terms. Though anecdotal evidence suggests that the costs of politics may in fact extend beyond economics to frayed personal relationships, compromised emotional stability, and even physical problems, no systematic evidence on these broader costs exists. We construct and validate batteries of survey items that delineate the physical, social, and emotional costs of political engagement and administer these items to a demographically representative sample of U.S. adults. The results suggest that a large number of Americans believe their physical health has been harmed by their exposure to politics and even more report that politics has resulted in emotional costs and lost friendships.