It’s all true, folks ~ and to a degree barely imaginable.
A new study at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland found that ~ based on photographs alone ~ the winner in French parliamentary elections could be predicted with uncanny accuracy. And those doing the predicting were Swiss children as young as five!
The impressions required to make the assessment as to who is the more desirable candidate are formed in about one-tenth of a second.
According to Scientific American Mind:
This finding contributes to a large and growing body of evidence, coming from many research groups, which shows that voters seem to be heavily influenced by a candidate’s appearance, and in particular the kinds of personality traits that a politician’s face projects. This result is strange considering the political stakes. We may agree that one candidate looks more approachable or intelligent than another, but why do we then allow these superficial impressions to guide our political preferences?
The field of cognitive psychology teaches us that, when faced with a data deluge, the human mind tends to simplify the decision-making process by relying on quick and easy strategies, or what many scientists refer to as “heuristics.” Given the complexity of voting—candidates hold many, subtle positions, and voters are bombarded with information—it should come as no surprise that voters take mental shortcuts to arrive at their final decisions. Although some of these strategies, such as voting along party lines, may be reasonable, others are harder to justify, and thus call into question the very notion of the rational voter.
A second study discussed in the article ~ this one conducted at MIT ~ proved that assessing a candidate based solely on appearance occurs most frequently among politically ignorant people and those who watch a lot of television.
Click here for the complete Scientific American Mind article.