Beauty itself doth of itself persuade: A cross-cultural study of candidate appearance and electoral success in new democracies
Author(s)Lenz, Gabriel Salman; Lawson, J. Chappell H.; Baker, Andy; Myers, Michael
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A flurry of recent studies indicates that candidates who simply look more capable or attractive are more likely to win elections. In this article, we investigate whether voters‘ snap judgments of appearance travel across cultures and whether they influence elections in new democracies. We show unlabeled, black-and-white pictures of Mexican and Brazilian candidates‘ faces to subjects living in America and India, asking them which candidates would be better elected officials. Despite cultural, ethnic, and racial differences, Americans and Indians agree about which candidates are superficially appealing (correlations ranging from .70 to .87). Moreover, these superficial judgments appear to have a profound influence on Mexican and Brazilian voters, as the American and Indian judgments predict actual election returns with surprising accuracy. We still find, however, a role for more traditional institutional variables, as the magnitude of the appearance effects may depend on the rules of the electoral game.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science
Lawson, Chappell et al. “Looking Like a Winner: Candidate Appearance and Electoral Success in New Democracies.” World Politics 62.04 (2010): 561–593.
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