, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 67-87

Bases of political judgments: The role of stereotypic and nonstereotypic information

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Three experiments investigated the role of stereotypic and nonstereotypic criteria in judgments of political candidates. The effects of physical attractiveness, political party, and stands on specific issues on both absolute and comparative judgments of political candidates were examined to evaluate three hypotheses about stereotype and attribute use. In the absence of other information, candidates' physical attractiveness (conveyed through photographs) had a substantial influence on subjects' global evaluations of them and inferences of both their personal qualities and their political ideology. When other information about the candidates' party membership and stands on specific issues was available, however, the candidates' attractiveness had no effect on the evaluations of them. When subjects made judgments of only one candidate, subjects relied exclusively on the candidate's voting record. When subjects were asked to make comparative judgments of two candidates, however, they based their judgments on each candidate's party membership and not on their respective voting records. Implications of these results for the processes that underlie political judgments and decisions are evaluated.