Article

Inferences of Competence from faces predict election outcomes.

Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 07/2005; 308(5728):1623-6. DOI: 10.1126/science.1110589
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

We show that inferences of competence based solely on facial appearance predicted the outcomes of U.S. congressional elections
better than chance (e.g., 68.8% of the Senate races in 2004) and also were linearly related to the margin of victory. These
inferences were specific to competence and occurred within a 1-second exposure to the faces of the candidates. The findings
suggest that rapid, unreflective trait inferences can contribute to voting choices, which are widely assumed to be based primarily
on rational and deliberative considerations.

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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.
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    • "Welsh and Guy (2009) have explored the influence of hair loss or baldness on possible social and psychological implications of appearance disturbance, while van Leeuwen et al. (2009) have examined the influence of attractiveness on imitation intentions. Moreover, Little et al. (2007) and Todorov et al. (2005) have shown that inferences of competence are based solely on facial appearance and, in the case of politics, can often predict election outcomes. According to Todorov et al. (2008), we reliably and automatically make personality inferences from facial appearance, despite little evidence of accuracy. "
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    DESCRIPTION: Highlights Research is done as an experimental study with experimental and comparative groups. The assessment of physical attractiveness is common in the service encounter. There is a correlation between customer attractiveness and quality of service. Employees should be trained not to allow guest appearance to influence the service. Social workers are trained not to let clients’ appearance affect service rendered.
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