Risk is endemic to the political arena and influences citizen engagement. We explore this connection by suggesting that risk-taking may be biologically instantiated in sensory systems. With specific attention to gender and gender identity, we investigate the connections between self-reported bitter taste reception, risk tolerance, and both of their associations with political participation. In three U.S. samples collected in 2019 and 2020, participants were asked to rate their preferences from lists of foods as well as whether they detected the taste of the substance N-Propylthiouracil (PROP) and, if so, the strength of the taste. In this registered report, we find that self-reported bitter taste preference, but not PROP detection, is positively associated with higher levels of risk tolerance as well as political participation. The pattern with gender and gender identity is mixed across our samples, but interestingly, we find that sex-atypical gender identity positively predicts political participation.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2