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Face-Off! Elections Determined by Candidate Faces?

Three new studies from Tufts University show that we can generally identify people as either Republican or Democrat simply by looking at photos of their faces!

Subjects were able to identify the political party of US Senate candidates from previous elections based on black and white photos of their faces. But even more amazing, subjects could identify the political affiliation of college seniors based on their yearbook photos. The third study showed that these judgements were based on perceived traits — photos of people who were judged to be warm, likable, and trustworthy were identified as Democrats, while photos of people who were judged to be powerful, dominant, and mature were judged to be Republicans.

Furthermore, previous studies show that such judgements can even determine the results of elections. A study from a year ago showed that people could pick the winner of an election just by looking at a photo of their face.

In one study, children as young as five years old were shown photos of the two leading candidates in an election, and asked to pick which one they would like to be captain of their boat, and they were able to pick the winner of the election. In fact, children were able to predict the winner of an election as well as adults (so why don’t we allow children to vote?)

These study results seem to be universal, regardless of country, regardless of whether the election is local or national, how familiar the candidate is to the subject, whether or not the candidate is the incumbent, or their gender, race, attractiveness, or age of the candidate. Furthermore, candidate appearance is a bigger influence to voters who don’t have much political knowledge, and who watch television more than average.