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Democrats and republicans can be differentiated from their faces.

Rule NO, Ambady N - PLoS ONE (2010)

Bottom Line: Here we found that individuals' political affiliations could be accurately discerned from their faces.Study 2 showed that these effects extended to Democrat and Republican college students, based on their senior yearbook photos.These data suggest that perceivers' beliefs about who is a Democrat and Republican may be based on perceptions of traits stereotypically associated with the two political parties and that, indeed, the guidance of these stereotypes may lead to categorizations of others' political affiliations at rates significantly more accurate than chance guessing.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, United States of America. nicholas.rule@tufts.edu

ABSTRACT

Background: Individuals' faces communicate a great deal of information about them. Although some of this information tends to be perceptually obvious (such as race and sex), much of it is perceptually ambiguous, without clear or obvious visual cues.

Methodology/principal findings: Here we found that individuals' political affiliations could be accurately discerned from their faces. In Study 1, perceivers were able to accurately distinguish whether U.S. Senate candidates were either Democrats or Republicans based on photos of their faces. Study 2 showed that these effects extended to Democrat and Republican college students, based on their senior yearbook photos. Study 3 then showed that these judgments were related to differences in perceived traits among the Democrat and Republican faces. Republicans were perceived as more powerful than Democrats. Moreover, as individual targets were perceived to be more powerful, they were more likely to be perceived as Republicans by others. Similarly, as individual targets were perceived to be warmer, they were more likely to be perceived as Democrats.

Conclusions/significance: These data suggest that perceivers' beliefs about who is a Democrat and Republican may be based on perceptions of traits stereotypically associated with the two political parties and that, indeed, the guidance of these stereotypes may lead to categorizations of others' political affiliations at rates significantly more accurate than chance guessing.

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Frequency of accurate categorizations of targets as Democrats and Republicans in Study 2 according to 5% bins.
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pone-0008733-g002: Frequency of accurate categorizations of targets as Democrats and Republicans in Study 2 according to 5% bins.

Mentions: Data were analyzed using signal detection, as in Study 1 (Hits: M = .62, SD = .12; False-alarms: M = .48, SD = .08). Participants' categorizations of the targets' political affiliations were significantly greater than chance guessing [M = .62, SD = .12; t(23) = 4.91, p<.001, r = .72] and measures of response bias showed a proclivity among participants to categorize targets as Democrats more often than Republicans (M = −.05, SD = .11). Male and female participants did not significantly differ in either accuracy [t(23) = 1.67, p = .11] or response bias [t(23) = 0.93, p = .36]. Similarly, male and female targets did not significantly differ in the rates with which they were categorized according to their political affiliation: t(58) = 1.35, p = .18. Figure 2 shows the distribution of correct categorizations for each target within 5% bins. These frequencies show that no target was categorized with complete accuracy or inaccuracy and that perceivers did not reach complete consensus for any single face. Rather, the distribution of accuracy for the categorizations was normally distributed (Shapiro-Wilk's W = .96, p = .07), suggesting that participants' accuracy was based upon a general ability to infer political affiliation from targets' faces, not just the legibility of a small set of faces.


Democrats and republicans can be differentiated from their faces.

Rule NO, Ambady N - PLoS ONE (2010)

Frequency of accurate categorizations of targets as Democrats and Republicans in Study 2 according to 5% bins.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2807452&req=5

pone-0008733-g002: Frequency of accurate categorizations of targets as Democrats and Republicans in Study 2 according to 5% bins.
Mentions: Data were analyzed using signal detection, as in Study 1 (Hits: M = .62, SD = .12; False-alarms: M = .48, SD = .08). Participants' categorizations of the targets' political affiliations were significantly greater than chance guessing [M = .62, SD = .12; t(23) = 4.91, p<.001, r = .72] and measures of response bias showed a proclivity among participants to categorize targets as Democrats more often than Republicans (M = −.05, SD = .11). Male and female participants did not significantly differ in either accuracy [t(23) = 1.67, p = .11] or response bias [t(23) = 0.93, p = .36]. Similarly, male and female targets did not significantly differ in the rates with which they were categorized according to their political affiliation: t(58) = 1.35, p = .18. Figure 2 shows the distribution of correct categorizations for each target within 5% bins. These frequencies show that no target was categorized with complete accuracy or inaccuracy and that perceivers did not reach complete consensus for any single face. Rather, the distribution of accuracy for the categorizations was normally distributed (Shapiro-Wilk's W = .96, p = .07), suggesting that participants' accuracy was based upon a general ability to infer political affiliation from targets' faces, not just the legibility of a small set of faces.

Bottom Line: Here we found that individuals' political affiliations could be accurately discerned from their faces.Study 2 showed that these effects extended to Democrat and Republican college students, based on their senior yearbook photos.These data suggest that perceivers' beliefs about who is a Democrat and Republican may be based on perceptions of traits stereotypically associated with the two political parties and that, indeed, the guidance of these stereotypes may lead to categorizations of others' political affiliations at rates significantly more accurate than chance guessing.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, United States of America. nicholas.rule@tufts.edu

ABSTRACT

Background: Individuals' faces communicate a great deal of information about them. Although some of this information tends to be perceptually obvious (such as race and sex), much of it is perceptually ambiguous, without clear or obvious visual cues.

Methodology/principal findings: Here we found that individuals' political affiliations could be accurately discerned from their faces. In Study 1, perceivers were able to accurately distinguish whether U.S. Senate candidates were either Democrats or Republicans based on photos of their faces. Study 2 showed that these effects extended to Democrat and Republican college students, based on their senior yearbook photos. Study 3 then showed that these judgments were related to differences in perceived traits among the Democrat and Republican faces. Republicans were perceived as more powerful than Democrats. Moreover, as individual targets were perceived to be more powerful, they were more likely to be perceived as Republicans by others. Similarly, as individual targets were perceived to be warmer, they were more likely to be perceived as Democrats.

Conclusions/significance: These data suggest that perceivers' beliefs about who is a Democrat and Republican may be based on perceptions of traits stereotypically associated with the two political parties and that, indeed, the guidance of these stereotypes may lead to categorizations of others' political affiliations at rates significantly more accurate than chance guessing.

Show MeSH