Article

‘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

ABSTRACT

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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    • "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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