A recent study made by MIT
political scientists shows that voters are influenced by the looks of politicians. The research also shows that a “good politician” has to have a specific look throughout the world.
For the research, voters from the US and India were shown photos of real election candidates from Mexico and Brazil. The amazing result of the study is that, independently from where they live (India or the United States) most people had identical answers. Even more amazing is that the answers actually resembled the choices made by Mexican and Brazilian electors.
People taking part at the study were shown pictures of candidates from 122 elections in the two countries. 75 percent of the time, people from India and the US agreed, as to which candidate seemed superior. A group of candidates in the United States reached a 80 percent similar responses to Mexican electors.
“We were a little shocked that people in the United States and India so easily predicted the outcomes of elections in Mexico and Brazil based only on brief exposure to the candidates’ faces,” said Gabriel Lenz, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at MIT and a co-author of the study. “These are all different cultures, with different political traditions and different histories.”
Taking into consideration the results of this study, scientists were able to predict the winner in 68 percent of Mexican elections and 75 percent of Brazilian elections. The authors stated that “ these are very large effects,” in the paper that will be published this fall in the journal World Politics. The study was led by Gabriel Lenz, in collaboration with Chappell Lawson, associate professor of political science at MIT, Michael Myers, research affiliate with MIT’s Department of Political Science, and Andy Baker, political scientist at the University of Colorado. The resulting paper is called “Looking like a Winner: Candidate Appearance and Electoral Success in New Democracies”.
Panu Poutvaara, an economist at the University of Helsinki, qualifies the written work as “ interesting and innovative”. By establishing a connection between pleasant and charismatic appearances and campaigns' result, scientists can ultimately find out why this phenomenon is happening worldwide.
MIT's researchers say that most people voting candidates over their good looks, are often uninformed, do not know anything about politics, and usually watch too much television.