Elections: Does the outward appearance of candidates count at the polls?… Unfortunately, yes

Elections: Does the outward appearance of candidates count at the polls?… Unfortunately, yes

For decades, political scientists have attempted to “discipline” voter preferences and behaviors into a typology, adopting definitions such as emotional party identification, rational voting, psychological voting, and more. Now, “visual voting” also seems to be invading politics.

Three researchers Niclas Berggren, Henrik Jordahl and Panu Poutvaara with two publications “The appearance of a winner: beauty and electoral success” and “The good look: conservative politicians look better and their voters reward it”, have made argue that not only does good looks increase a candidate’s chances of being elected, but good-looking politicians are found in conservative parties in Europe, the United States and Australia.

Tell us who you like to predict the outcome

In particular, the three scientists did the following: they showed photos of 1,900 Finnish candidates to people who do not live in Finland. Thus, the risk of respondents’ assessments of a candidate’s beauty being influenced by the candidate’s political views was avoided because they are simply not relevant to Finnish politics.

They then asked them to rate the beauty of the candidates (e.g., very good looking, average, very unattractive, etc.) and immediately tied those answers to the election results.

Good-looking candidates have an electoral advantage, and this goes for both women and men. This relationship is also true in education or professions. Facial features, in fact, predict success in politics, business and the military, according to Panu Poutvaara.

The finding that photo-based ratings help predict election results has been confirmed in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland, in Britain and the United States, according to the researchers.

Conservatives are more beautiful

One of the key findings is that conservative politicians are more presentable and voters reward it. But how do the researchers conclude that the beautiful are found more on the right side of the political spectrum?

They take it for granted – based on previous studies – that beautiful people make more money and therefore have less to gain and more to lose from wealth redistribution, which is not very “popular” in the world. agenda of the conservative parties. People with higher lifetime income are less likely to support redistribution.

Niclas Berggren, Henrik Jordahl and Panu Poutvaara therefore conclude that beautiful people are more likely to support political parties that embrace economic conservatism, explaining that even if beautiful people are treated better, they are more likely to perceive the world as a ” fair world”. place” and thus adopting conservative values, rejecting demands for change.

On the contrary, left-wing parties seek change because they are not satisfied with the status quo. However, poor Morales who tried to lean on the leftist Miss Bolivia 2007, Jessica Jordan, it didn’t work out for him because people didn’t prefer her.

Consul General of Bolivia in New York Jessica Jordan, former Miss Universe.

Evil is done by the misinformed

One of the key findings is that the outward appearance of candidates plays the biggest role among… uninformed voters. Where there are many, the beauty premium is greater for good-looking candidates because uninformed conservative voters value beauty both for its own sake and as a sign of conservatism.

If voters were informed, the research suggests, the role of appearance would be reduced, which the researchers hope would translate more immediately into better policies.

Some voters might also derive satisfaction from endorsing good-looking candidates or watching them later on television. If the media tends to invite handsome politicians, they have an advantage in getting their message across, attracting even voters who don’t care so much about good looks.

An earlier US study even found that the positive relationship between votes and attractiveness is stronger among voters with limited political knowledge who watch a lot of television.

Voters also often use good looks as a “cue” for candidates’ ideology, while non-mainstream right-wing candidates benefit the most from their good looks when citizens are uninformed.

In politics, appearance should not count

The researchers draw attention to the consequences of such a “visual” criterion. If the electoral outcome is judged by the small difference, according to the research, beauty can have significant economic consequences by favoring right-wing preferred policies on taxation, pensions and the provision of public goods over policies that are often very different from the left.

That’s why “research on various behavioral biases can help people overcome them” say the three scientists, hoping themselves “that voters will take a moment to reflect on their sensitivity to appearance (as well as easy rhetoric) and whether this may lead them to neglect more important criteria when making their choices”.

“When alternative facts (falsehoods presented in such a way as to appear to correspond to reality) and gray eyes threaten to undermine even established democracies, the interest in promoting informed debate based on real facts far outweighs the implications of on the role of beauty in politics,” the researchers conclude.

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