Voters Want Attractive, Mature Candidates

PRINCETON, N.J., June 17 (UPI) — It may not be what the U.S. found fathers had in mind but U.S. and British researchers found voters are heavily influenced by a politician’s appearance.

Christopher Olivola of University College London and Alexander Todorov of Princeton University found voters make judgments about politicians’ competence based on superficial, non-verbal cues, such as their appearance. In fact, appearance can predict both voting decisions and election outcomes, the researchers said.

The study authors used a computer model of facial personality traits to identify the particular facial features associated with competent judgment. They then manipulated the facial traits on screen for the study participants.

The study, published by the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, found facial maturity and physical attractiveness are the two main criteria used by the study participants to make judgments on competence.

“Getting people to overcome the influence of first impressions will not be an easy task,” the researchers said in a statement. “The speed, automaticity and implicit nature of appearance-based trait inferences make them particularly hard to correct. Moreover, often people don’t even recognize that they are forming judgments about others from their appearances.”

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