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The Politics of Beauty: The Effects of Partisan Bias on Physical Attractiveness

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Does politics cause people to be perceived as more or less attractive? As a type of social identity, party identifiers often exhibit in-group bias, positively evaluating members of their own party and, especially under conditions of competition, negatively evaluating out-party members. The current experiment tests whether political in-party and out-party status affects perceptions of the physical attractiveness of target persons. In a nationally representative internet sample of U.S. adults during the 2012 presidential election, we presented participants with photos of individuals and varied information about their presidential candidate preference. Results indicate that partisans, regardless of gender, rate target individuals as less attractive if they hold a dissimilar candidate preference. Female partisans, however, were more likely to rate target persons as more physically attractive when they held a similar candidate preference whereas no such effect was found for male partisans.
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ORIGINAL PAPER
The Politics of Beauty: The Effects of Partisan Bias
on Physical Attractiveness
Stephen P. Nicholson
1
Chelsea M. Coe
1
Jason Emory
2
Anna V. Song
3
Published online: 5 April 2016
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media New York 2016
Abstract Does politics cause people to be perceived as more or less attractive? As
a type of social identity, party identifiers often exhibit in-group bias, positively
evaluating members of their own party and, especially under conditions of com-
petition, negatively evaluating out-party members. The current experiment tests
whether political in-party and out-party status affects perceptions of the physical
attractiveness of target persons. In a nationally representative internet sample of
U.S. adults during the 2012 presidential election, we presented participants with
photos of individuals and varied information about their presidential candidate
preference. Results indicate that partisans, regardless of gender, rate target indi-
viduals as less attractive if they hold a dissimilar candidate preference. Female
partisans, however, were more likely to rate target persons as more physically
attractive when they held a similar candidate preference whereas no such effect was
found for male partisans.
Keywords Physical attractiveness Party identification Party cues Social
judgment Partisan polarization Social distance Mate selection
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11109-016-9339-
7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
&Stephen P. Nicholson
snicholson@ucmerced.edu
1
Political Science, University of California, Merced, Merced, USA
2
Psychology, California State University, Stanislaus, Turlock, USA
3
Psychological Sciences, University of California, Merced, Merced, USA
123
Polit Behav (2016) 38:883–898
DOI 10.1007/s11109-016-9339-7
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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