‘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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    • "Showing that a more " powerful " face was more likely identified as " Republican " and a face with more " warmth " was more suggestive of a " Democrat, " Rule and Ambady (2010a) suggested that the ability to identify political membership may have derived from faceto-trait inferences that are congruent with the Republican and Democrat stereotypes. Thus far, previous studies have suggested that face-totrait inferences are ubiquitous and fast (Todorov and Uleman, 2002, 2003; Willis and Todorov, 2006), consensual across cultures (Rule et al., 2010b), may be consequential, for instance, in electoral outcome (Todorov et al., 2005; Ballew and Todorov, 2007; Rule et al., 2010b), and may have an early ontogeny, at about 3 or 4 years of age (Cogsdill et al., 2014). However, just to what extent the STI or FTI pertain to the ability to categorize perceptually ambiguous social groups has been relatively unexplored. "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study aims to replicate and extend Rule and Ambady (2010a)'s findings that Republicans and Democrats could be differentiated by face. In Experiment 1, undergraduates categorized 50 gray-scale full-face photos of candidates of the two major political parties in Taiwan, the Kuomingtang (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Using identical stimuli and procedure, Experiment 2 tested 25- to 57-year-olds. Experiment 3 tested undergraduates with cropped photos, Experiment 4, with photos devoid of the mouth and chin area. At the end of each Experiment, we interviewed the participants about the strategies used. Results showed that undergraduates could categorize KMT and DPP with accuracies significantly higher than chance in full-face photos (Experiment 1), M = 0.524, p = 0.045, cropped photos (Experiment 3), M = 0.534, p = 0.016, and photos devoid of the mouth-and-chin area (Experiment 4), M = 0.530, p = 0.048. Adults aged between 25 and 57 could also categorize full-face photos (Experiment 2), M = 0.557, p < 0.001. Analysis on strategy use revealed that the better-than-chance performance may be a unique contribution of those who reported making face-to-trait inferences. In sum, we replicated Rule and Ambady's (2010a) results in East Asian and found that face-to-trait inferences may be essential.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Frontiers in Psychology
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    • "Facial attributions for intelligence, attractiveness, dominance and trustworthiness have been shown to exhibit a strong effect on social decision making, with far reaching consequences from choosing between presidential candidates to jury decisions in criminal legal cases [1] [2]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Judgements about personality based on facial appearance are strong effectors in social decision making and are known to impact on areas from presidential elections to jury decisions. Recent work has shown that it is possible to predict perception of memorability, trustworthiness, intelligence and other attributes in human face images. The most successful of these approaches requires face images expertly annotated with key facial landmarks. We demonstrate a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) model that is able perform the same task without the need for landmark features thereby greatly increasing efficiency. The model has high accuracy, surpassing human level performance in some cases. Furthermore, we use a deconvolutional approach to visualize important features for perception of 22 attributes and show that these can be described as a composites of their positive and negative components by separately visualizing both.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015
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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
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
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