‘Predicting Political Elections from Rapid and Unreflective Face Judgments’

Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 12/2007; 104(46):17948-53. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0705435104
Source: PubMed


Here we show that rapid judgments of competence based solely on the facial appearance of candidates predicted the outcomes of gubernatorial elections, the most important elections in the United States next to the presidential elections. In all experiments, participants were presented with the faces of the winner and the runner-up and asked to decide who is more competent. To ensure that competence judgments were based solely on facial appearance and not on prior person knowledge, judgments for races in which the participant recognized any of the faces were excluded from all analyses. Predictions were as accurate after a 100-ms exposure to the faces of the winner and the runner-up as exposure after 250 ms and unlimited time exposure (Experiment 1). Asking participants to deliberate and make a good judgment dramatically increased the response times and reduced the predictive accuracy of judgments relative to both judgments made after 250 ms of exposure to the faces and judgments made within a response deadline of 2 s (Experiment 2). Finally, competence judgments collected before the elections in 2006 predicted 68.6% of the gubernatorial races and 72.4% of the Senate races (Experiment 3). These effects were independent of the incumbency status of the candidates. The findings suggest that rapid, unreflective judgments of competence from faces can affect voting decisions.

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    • "Individuals are often confronted with situations in which they only have very little information about the persons they have to interact with. To handle such situations, individuals have been shown to spontaneously form first impressions in an extremely fast manner (Ballew & Todorov, 2007; Bar, Neta, & Linz, 2006; Rule & Ambady, 2008). Typically, facial appearance is the most prominent source of information in such moments and thus contributes substantially to spontaneous personality judgments (e.g., Willis & Todorov, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: General, spontaneous evaluations of strangers based on their faces have been shown to reflect judgments of these persons' intention and ability to harm. These evaluations can be mapped onto a 2D space defined by the dimensions trustworthiness (intention) and dominance (ability). Here we go beyond general evaluations and focus on more specific personality judgments derived from the Big Two and Big Five personality concepts. In particular, we investigate whether Big Two/Big Five personality judgments can be mapped onto the 2D space defined by the dimensions trustworthiness and dominance. Results indicate that judgments of the Big Two personality dimensions almost perfectly map onto the 2D space. In contrast, at least 3 of the Big Five dimensions (i.e., neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness) go beyond the 2D space, indicating that additional dimensions are necessary to describe more specific face-based personality judgments accurately. Building on this evidence, we model the Big Two/Big Five personality dimensions in real facial photographs. Results from 2 validation studies show that the Big Two/Big Five are perceived reliably across different samples of faces and participants. Moreover, results reveal that participants differentiate reliably between the different Big Two/Big Five dimensions. Importantly, this high level of agreement and differentiation in personality judgments from faces likely creates a subjective reality which may have serious consequences for those being perceived-notably, these consequences ensue because the subjective reality is socially shared, irrespective of the judgments' validity. The methodological approach introduced here might prove useful in various psychological disciplines. (PsycINFO Database Record
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    • "To conservatively control for this heterogeneity, we used fixedeffects regression models (Laird & Ware, 1982; McCaffrey, Lockwood, Mihaly, & Sass, 2012), which estimate the net effect of LSM on poll changes after accounting for other person-level and election year–level factors affecting poll change, that is, the model estimates within rather than between person effects of LSM on third-party impressions. For example , individual fixed effects control for all person-level characteristics that are unobserved and unchanging such as charisma; physical characteristics like good looks, height, IQ, and pitch of voice; or habituated mannerisms such as twitching and eye blinking such that only the residual variance in poll change can be explained by LSM (Ballew & Todorov, 2007). Election year fixed effects control for the state of economy , wartime, and so forth (Healy, Malhotra, & Mo, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: The current research used the contexts of U.S. presidential debates and negotiations to examine whether matching the linguistic style of an opponent in a two-party exchange affects the reactions of third-party observers. Building off communication accommodation theory (CAT), interaction alignment theory (IAT), and processing fluency, we propose that language style matching (LSM) will improve subsequent third-party evaluations because matching an opponent's linguistic style reflects greater perspective taking and will make one's arguments easier to process. In contrast, research on status inferences predicts that LSM will negatively impact third-party evaluations because LSM implies followership. We conduct two studies to test these competing hypotheses. Study 1 analyzed transcripts of U.S. presidential debates between 1976 and 2012 and found that candidates who matched their opponent's linguistic style increased their standing in the polls. Study 2 demonstrated a causal relationship between LSM and third-party observer evaluations using negotiation transcripts. © 2015 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
    Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 07/2015; 41(10). DOI:10.1177/0146167215591168 · 2.52 Impact Factor
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    • "For example, much attention has been devoted to conceptualization and measurement of party identification (e.g., Green et al., 2002; Weinschenk, 2010; Zschirnt, 2011). However, shortterm forces, including a discussion with a friend or coworker (Beck et al., 2002), television ads (Huber and Arceneaux, 2007), or various characteristics of the candidates such as their facial appearance (Ballew and Todorov, 2007) or perceived personality (Kinder, 1986), are nearly infinite in number and are much harder to measure and link to the voting decision (e.g., Miller and Shanks, 1996). This means that voting models should perform well when predicting the choices of voters who decide early and are guided primarily by long-term forces. "
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    ABSTRACT: We examine the long- and short-campaign forces and their effects on the error variance in models of presidential voting decisions. Using a heteroskedastic probit allows a separate equation for the error variance and thus insight into campaign effects on uncertainty. Controlling for political sophistication, partisan strength and ambivalence, the choices of voters deciding later in the campaign are consistently less predictable. This is important because the number of late deciders has increased in recent elections. Furthermore, ambivalence and residing in a battleground state are stronger sources of error variance among late deciders.
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