Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Face Dances -- who "looks" presidential?

Posted by Frank DzieciolowskiOh my God, my mother-in-law was right all along! According to new research by Anthony Little, a psychologist at the University of Stirling in Scotland, faces may actually decide the outcomes of elections.

(Faces Decide Elections, New York Times 12/8/07).

For years I have listened to people express their political preferences, not in terms of where candidates stand on the issues, but rather how they appeal to one's senses. I'm sure you've heard people question whether Abe Lincoln would even be considered a viable candidate for office today due to his appearance. What does it mean when someone says that a candidate looks presidential?

Well, according to Dr. Little, it seems to be all in the facial characteristics. Below is an excerpt from the New York Times article where Little uses 2004's Kerry/Bush face-off to drive his point home.

Kerry's face is longer and narrower; Bush's jaw is wider, his brow lower. Little and several collaborators surveyed people online and on the streets of Liverpool. The Bush face rated more "masculine" and "dominant," while the Kerry face was more "forgiving" and "likable." Though the Kerry face was ranked most "intelligent," most participants said they'd choose the Bush face to run their country. "The percentages were similar to how people actually voted in the election," Little said. People were then asked whom they'd elect during a time of war versus a time of peace: Kerry won the most "face votes" during peacetime. Bush during wartime. Of course, faces don't sway everyone. "Die-hard Republicans or Democrats will vote for whoever leads their party," Little said. But uncommitted voters are another story: "Those are the voters more likely to be swayed by visual appearances," he said. "They're also the ones who really swing elections."

There you have it. Political analysts, bloggers and everyday voters should get their news from the Fashion Channel! By the way, did you note how Dr. Little described Bush's facial characteristics--low brow, wide jaw? Isn't that how one describes a Neanderthal? Once again, a heartfelt apology to my mother-in-law.


heartfelt said...

You are right. Look at some of the past winners and losers. For example, there is no way Ross Perot would have been worthy with those ears and small head. While a good looking man like JFK or a someone with a strong appearance like Roosevelt was a shoe in. Of course, Regan had that star quality everyone is looking for in a president. For once, I would just like to see the best man or woman win. Someone with ideals, integrity, and a plan to make this a better country for everyone.

Shadowdancer said...

This is sadly true... Unless people are taken in by a candidate or emotionally connected to his views, they will probably just vote for whoever they think "looks like the president" or the person with the "better sounding" name. People don't see (or don't care to see) who the person is before they actually vote, they merely cast a ballot oblivious to the needs of this country. Next time you enter the ballot box to vote, I urge you read at least a little about the person you are voting for, listen to a speech or two, and open your ears to the people around you who have done the same.

P.S. This is an excellent article, I will be sure to share this with my family and friends.

P.S.S. Kerry vs. Bush... Talk about a lose/lose situation.