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Faces of Politicians: Babyfacedness Predicts Inferred Competence but Not Electoral Success

  • Poutvaara, Panu

    ()

    (University of Helsinki)

  • Jordahl, Henrik

    ()

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Berggren, Niclas

    ()

    (Ratio)

Recent research has documented that competent-looking political candidates do better in U.S. elections and that babyfaced individuals are generally perceived to be less competent than maturefaced individuals. Taken together, this suggests that babyfaced political candidates are perceived as less competent and therefore fare worse in elections. We test this hypothesis, making use of photograph-based judgments by 2,772 respondents of the facial appearance of 1,785 Finnish political candidates. Our results confirm that babyfacedness is negatively related to inferred competence in politics. Despite this, babyfacedness is either unrelated or positively related to electoral success, depending on the sample of candidates.

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Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 803.

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Length: 16 pages
Date of creation: 26 Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2009, pages 1132-1135.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0803
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  1. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
  2. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2006. "Changing looks and changing "discrimination": The beauty of economists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 405-412, December.
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