Voters tend to choose good-looking politicians

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Washington, June 16 (ANI): A new study has shown that politicians' facial competence predicts voting behaviour.

According to Christopher Olivola from University College London in the UK and Alexander Todorov from Princeton University in the US, voters' choices are heavily influenced by superficial, nonverbal cues, such as politicians' appearance. Their findings indicate that voters make judgments about politicians' competence based on their facial appearance and these appearance-based competence judgments reliably predict both voting decisions and election outcomes.

They also highlight the possibility that appearance is most likely to influence less knowledgeable voters who watch a lot of television, a finding consistent with psychological models of persuasion. Since voters need to navigate their way through the flood of information available about candidates in order to make fully informed choices, it is no surprise that they take mental shortcuts to get to their final decision.

The team found that facial maturity and physical attractiveness are the two main criteria used by participants to make competence judgments.

"Getting people to overcome the influence of first impressions will not be an easy task. 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."

"Controlling exposure to television and other media would be extremely difficult, so educating voters is likely to be a more realistic strategy," they add.

The research is published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, a Springer publication. (ANI)

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