Limits...
The political gender gap: gender bias in facial inferences that predict voting behavior.

Chiao JY, Bowman NE, Gill H - PLoS ONE (2008)

Bottom Line: In particular, men are more likely to vote for attractive female candidates whereas women are more likely to vote for approachable male candidates.Here we reveal gender biases in the intuitive heuristics that voters use when deciding whom to vote for in major political elections.Our findings underscore the impact of gender and physical appearance on shaping voter decision-making and provide novel insight into the psychological foundations underlying the political gender gap.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA. jchiao@northwestern.edu

ABSTRACT

Background: Throughout human history, a disproportionate degree of political power around the world has been held by men. Even in democracies where the opportunity to serve in top political positions is available to any individual elected by the majority of their constituents, most of the highest political offices are occupied by male leaders. What psychological factors underlie this political gender gap? Contrary to the notion that people use deliberate, rational strategies when deciding whom to vote for in major political elections, research indicates that people use shallow decision heuristics, such as impressions of competence solely from a candidate's facial appearance, when deciding whom to vote for. Because gender has previously been shown to affect a number of inferences made from the face, here we investigated the hypothesis that gender of both voter and candidate affects the kinds of facial impressions that predict voting behavior.

Methodology/principal finding: Male and female voters judged a series of male and female political candidates on how competent, dominant, attractive and approachable they seemed based on their facial appearance. Then they saw a series of pairs of political candidates and decided which politician they would vote for in a hypothetical election for President of the United States. Results indicate that both gender of voter and candidate affect the kinds of facial impressions that predict voting behavior. All voters are likely to vote for candidates who appear more competent. However, male candidates that appear more approachable and female candidates who appear more attractive are more likely to win votes. In particular, men are more likely to vote for attractive female candidates whereas women are more likely to vote for approachable male candidates.

Conclusions/significance: Here we reveal gender biases in the intuitive heuristics that voters use when deciding whom to vote for in major political elections. Our findings underscore the impact of gender and physical appearance on shaping voter decision-making and provide novel insight into the psychological foundations underlying the political gender gap.

Show MeSH

Related in: MedlinePlus

Example of two tasks in the current experiment.a) In the facial judgment task, participants indicated how competent, attractive, approachable and dominant each candidate appeared on a seven-point Likert scale (1 = not at all, 7 = very much). b) In the hypothetical voting task, participants indicated which of the two candidates they would vote for in a U.S. Presidential election, considering all other factors equivalent.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection


getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2573960&req=5

pone-0003666-g001: Example of two tasks in the current experiment.a) In the facial judgment task, participants indicated how competent, attractive, approachable and dominant each candidate appeared on a seven-point Likert scale (1 = not at all, 7 = very much). b) In the hypothetical voting task, participants indicated which of the two candidates they would vote for in a U.S. Presidential election, considering all other factors equivalent.

Mentions: Participants completed two behavioral tasks: a facial judgment task (see Figure 1a) and a hypothetical U.S. Presidential election voting task (see Figure 1b). First, participants saw a face of a political candidate for 1 second and then judged how competent, dominant, approachable and attractive the face seemed on a 7-point Likert scale (1 = not at all to 7 = very much). Second, participants saw a series of pairs of political candidates from the 2006 House of Representatives election and were asked to decide which of the two candidates they would vote for in a U.S. Presidential election, imagining that all other attributes of the candidates were equal. Order of presentation of faces was randomized and the location (e.g., right or left side of the screen) of winners and losers as defined by the 2006 HR election was counterbalanced across participants.


The political gender gap: gender bias in facial inferences that predict voting behavior.

Chiao JY, Bowman NE, Gill H - PLoS ONE (2008)

Example of two tasks in the current experiment.a) In the facial judgment task, participants indicated how competent, attractive, approachable and dominant each candidate appeared on a seven-point Likert scale (1 = not at all, 7 = very much). b) In the hypothetical voting task, participants indicated which of the two candidates they would vote for in a U.S. Presidential election, considering all other factors equivalent.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2573960&req=5

pone-0003666-g001: Example of two tasks in the current experiment.a) In the facial judgment task, participants indicated how competent, attractive, approachable and dominant each candidate appeared on a seven-point Likert scale (1 = not at all, 7 = very much). b) In the hypothetical voting task, participants indicated which of the two candidates they would vote for in a U.S. Presidential election, considering all other factors equivalent.
Mentions: Participants completed two behavioral tasks: a facial judgment task (see Figure 1a) and a hypothetical U.S. Presidential election voting task (see Figure 1b). First, participants saw a face of a political candidate for 1 second and then judged how competent, dominant, approachable and attractive the face seemed on a 7-point Likert scale (1 = not at all to 7 = very much). Second, participants saw a series of pairs of political candidates from the 2006 House of Representatives election and were asked to decide which of the two candidates they would vote for in a U.S. Presidential election, imagining that all other attributes of the candidates were equal. Order of presentation of faces was randomized and the location (e.g., right or left side of the screen) of winners and losers as defined by the 2006 HR election was counterbalanced across participants.

Bottom Line: In particular, men are more likely to vote for attractive female candidates whereas women are more likely to vote for approachable male candidates.Here we reveal gender biases in the intuitive heuristics that voters use when deciding whom to vote for in major political elections.Our findings underscore the impact of gender and physical appearance on shaping voter decision-making and provide novel insight into the psychological foundations underlying the political gender gap.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA. jchiao@northwestern.edu

ABSTRACT

Background: Throughout human history, a disproportionate degree of political power around the world has been held by men. Even in democracies where the opportunity to serve in top political positions is available to any individual elected by the majority of their constituents, most of the highest political offices are occupied by male leaders. What psychological factors underlie this political gender gap? Contrary to the notion that people use deliberate, rational strategies when deciding whom to vote for in major political elections, research indicates that people use shallow decision heuristics, such as impressions of competence solely from a candidate's facial appearance, when deciding whom to vote for. Because gender has previously been shown to affect a number of inferences made from the face, here we investigated the hypothesis that gender of both voter and candidate affects the kinds of facial impressions that predict voting behavior.

Methodology/principal finding: Male and female voters judged a series of male and female political candidates on how competent, dominant, attractive and approachable they seemed based on their facial appearance. Then they saw a series of pairs of political candidates and decided which politician they would vote for in a hypothetical election for President of the United States. Results indicate that both gender of voter and candidate affect the kinds of facial impressions that predict voting behavior. All voters are likely to vote for candidates who appear more competent. However, male candidates that appear more approachable and female candidates who appear more attractive are more likely to win votes. In particular, men are more likely to vote for attractive female candidates whereas women are more likely to vote for approachable male candidates.

Conclusions/significance: Here we reveal gender biases in the intuitive heuristics that voters use when deciding whom to vote for in major political elections. Our findings underscore the impact of gender and physical appearance on shaping voter decision-making and provide novel insight into the psychological foundations underlying the political gender gap.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus