Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shallow Voters Judging Candidates by Their Looks

Discriminating against the ugly. Who could have ever seen this coming? Especially from Ivy League students.

Voters Make Quick, Shallow Decisions, Study Suggests
Voters can judge a politician's competence in the blink of an eye—or so they think they can, a new study suggests.

Previous research hints that voters go for the most competent candidates, but the new analysis reveals people can forge steadfast opinions simply by glancing at a candidate's picture. The study highlights some of the shallow behaviors of a sizeable chunk of the voting population, said co-author Alexander Todorov, a psychologist at Princeton University.

"People are looking for the right information about a candidate, they're just looking in the wrong place," Todorov said. "We're seeing that snap judgments play a bigger role in voting than we thought."
Before anyone freaks out, consider we're talking about a study using Ivy League students.
People asked to rate the competence of an individual based on a quick glance at a photo predicted the outcome of elections more than two-thirds of the time.

Nearly 300 students at Princeton University were asked to look at pairs of photographs for as little as one-tenth of a second and pick the individual they felt was more competent, psychologist Alexander Todorov reports in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The participants were shown photos of leading candidates for governor or senator in other parts of the country, but they were not told they were evaluating candidates. Those who recognized any of the photos were not counted.

When the elections took place two weeks later, the researchers found that the competency snap judgments predicted the winners in 72.4 percent of the senatorial races and 68.6 percent of the gubernatorial races.

"The findings suggest that fast, unreflective judgments based on a candidate's face can affect voting decisions," Todorov said in a statement. "Voters are not that rational, after all. So maybe we have to consider that when we elect our politicians."
Rather smug, aren't we, Mr. Todorov?

Well anyway, if this is true, then there's hopefully a strong chance a certain candidate won't be getting elected.

We can only pray.

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