Political Behavior

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 345–367 | Cite as

Creating a political image: Shaping appearance and manipulating the vote

  • Shawn W. Rosenberg
  • Shulamit Kahn
  • Thuy Tran

Abstract

The key question addressed is whether political consultants can shape a candidate's appearance in such a way as to influence voters' preferences. To explore this question, an attempt was made to discover the components of a favorable political image and then use that information to manipulate voters' preferences. Photographs of over 200 women were analyzed and the features of the women's appearance which affected the quality of the image projected were isolated. Using this information, a make-up artist and photographer were employed to shape the appearance of six women. Photographs of the women were then placed on campaign flyers along with information on the women's political party affiliation and their position on several key issues. Pairs of flyers were used to create mock elections. The result of these elections suggest that it is possible to shape a political candidate's image in a way which may effect electoral outcomes. The implications of this for electoral politics are discussed.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Berry, D.S., and L.Z. McArthur (1985). Some components and consequences of a babyface.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 48: 312–323.Google Scholar
  2. Berry, D.S., and L.Z. McArthur (1986). Perceiving character in faces: The impact of age-related craniofacial changes on social perception. Psychological Bulletin 100: 3–18.Google Scholar
  3. Berscheid, E., and E. Walster (1974). Physical attractiveness. In L. Berkowitz (ed.),Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 7, New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bishop, G., D.L. Hamilton, and J.B. McConahay (1980). Attitudes and non-attitudes in the belief systems of mass publics.Journal of Social Psychology 110: 53–64.Google Scholar
  5. Converse, P.E. (1964). The nature of belief systems in mass publics. In D. Apter (ed.),Ideology and Disconstent, New York: Free Pres.Google Scholar
  6. Erickson, F. (1979). Talking down: Some cultural sources of miscommunication in interracial interviews. In A. Wolfgang (ed.),Nonverbal Behavior: Applications and Cultural Implications. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  7. Gibson, J.J. (1979).The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  8. Hugo, G.T., J.T. Lanzetta, D.G. Sullivan, R.D. Masters, and B.G. Englis (1985). Emotional reactions to expressive displays of a political leader.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 49: 1513–1529.Google Scholar
  9. Kelly, S., Jr., and T. Mirer (1974). The simple act of voting.American Political Science Review 68: 572–591.Google Scholar
  10. Kinder, D.R., and R.P. Abelson (1981). Appraising Presidential Candidates: Personality and Affect in the 1980 Campaign. Paper delivered at the 1981 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Markus, G.B., and P.E. Converse (1979). A dynamic simultaneous equation model of electoral choice.American Political Science Review 73: 1055–1070.Google Scholar
  12. Masters, R.D., and D.G. Sullivan (1989). Nonverbal displays and political leadership in France and the United States.Political Behavior 11: 123–156.Google Scholar
  13. McArthur, L.Z., and K. Apatow (1983/1984). Impression of baby-faced adults.Social Cognition 2: 315–342.Google Scholar
  14. Mehrabian, A. (1981).Silent Messages. Belmont, CA: Wasworth.Google Scholar
  15. Miller, A., M. Wattenberg, and O. Malanchuk (1986). Schematic assessments of presidential candidates.American Political Science Review 80: 521–540.Google Scholar
  16. Rosenberg, S.W., and P. McCafferty (1987). The image and the vote: Manipulating voters' preferences.Public Opinion Quarterly 51: 31–47.Google Scholar
  17. Rosenberg, S.W., L. Bohan, P. McCafferty, and K. Harris (1986). The image and the vote: The effect of candidate presentation on voter preference.American Journal of Political Science 30: 108–127.Google Scholar
  18. Secord, P.F. (1958). Facial features and inferential processes in interpersonal perception. In R. Tagivri and L. Petrullo (eds.),Person Perception and Interpersonal Behavior. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Sigelman, L., C.K. Sigelman, and C. Fowler (1987). A bird of a different feather? An experimental investigation of physical attractiveness and the electability of female candidates.Social Psychological Quarterly, 50: 32–43.Google Scholar
  20. Sullivan, D.G., and R.D. Masters (1988). Happy Warriors: Leaders' facial displays, viewers' emotions and political support.American Journal of Political Science 32: 345–368.Google Scholar
  21. Sullivan, J.L., J.E. Pierson, and G.E. Marcus (1978). Ideological constraint in the mass public: A methodological critique and some new findings.American Journal of Political Science 22: 233–249.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shawn W. Rosenberg
    • 1
  • Shulamit Kahn
    • 2
  • Thuy Tran
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate Concentration in Political Psychology, School of Social SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaIrvine
  2. 2.Graduate School of BusinessBoston UniversityBoston
  3. 3.University of CaliforniaIrvine

Personalised recommendations