How do Mitt Romney’s and Newt Gingrich’s looks affect their chances of being elected president? How do all politicians’ looks affect their careers? Researchers have been doing some illuminating work on that question.
A good article at at Slate.com sums up some of the best of the research. In 2005 a Princeton psychologist named Alexander Todorov found that, contrary to earlier assumptions, “beauty didn’t tell the whole story. Rather, voters appeared primarily drawn to faces that suggested competence—so much so that the effect could actually be seen in election results. In the lab, subjects glanced for a single second at the faces of congressional candidates. . . . Almost 70 percent of the time, the face that subjects judged as more competent-looking actually won the election. . . . The competent face shape is masculine but approachable, with a square jaw, high cheekbones, and large eyes. When people say Romney just looks presidential, this is the image they’re summoning.”
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