Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 83–110 | Cite as

Elected in 100 milliseconds: Appearance-Based Trait Inferences and Voting

Review

Abstract

Recent research has shown that rapid judgments about the personality traits of political candidates, based solely on their appearance, can predict their electoral success. This suggests that voters rely heavily on appearances when choosing which candidate to elect. Here we review this literature and examine the determinants of the relationship between appearance-based trait inferences and voting. We also reanalyze previous data to show that facial competence is a highly robust and specific predictor of political preferences. Finally, we introduce a computer model of face-based competence judgments, which we use to derive some of the facial features associated with these judgments.

Keywords

First impressions Voting Political decision making Face perception Social cognition 

References

  1. Ambadar, Z., Schooler, J. W., & Cohn, J. F. (2005). Deciphering the enigmatic face: The Importance of facial dynamics in interpreting subtle facial expressions. Psychological Science, 16, 403–410.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Ambady, N., & Rosenthal, R. (1992). Thin slices of expressive behavior as predictors of interpersonal consequences: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 256–274.Google Scholar
  3. Antonakis, J., & Dalgas, O. (2009). Predicting elections: Child’s play!. Science, 323, 1183.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Atkinson, M. D., Enos, R. D., & Hill, S. J. (2009). Candidate faces and election outcomes: Is the face-vote correlation caused by candidate selection? Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 4, 229–249.Google Scholar
  5. Babad, E. (1999). Preferential treatment in television interviewing: Evidence from nonverbal behavior. Political Communication, 16, 337–358.Google Scholar
  6. Babad, E. (2005). The psychological price of media bias. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 11, 245–255.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bailenson, J. N., Iyengar, S., Yee, N., & Collins, N. A. (2008). Facial similarity between voters and candidates causes influence. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72, 935–961.Google Scholar
  8. Ballew, C. C., & Todorov, A. (2007). Predicting political elections from rapid and unreflective face judgments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 104, 17948–17953.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Banducci, S. A., Karp, J. A., Thrasher, M., & Rallings, C. (2008). Ballot photographs as cues in low-information elections. Political Psychology, 29, 903–917.Google Scholar
  10. Bar, M., Neta, M., & Linz, H. (2006). Very first impressions. Emotion, 6, 269–278.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Barrett, A. W., & Barrington, L. W. (2005a). Is a picture worth a thousand words? Newspaper photographs and voter evaluations of political candidates. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 10, 98–113.Google Scholar
  12. Barrett, A. W., & Barrington, L. W. (2005b). Bias in newspaper photograph selection. Political Research Quarterly, 58, 609–618.Google Scholar
  13. Bartels, L. M. (2000). Partisanship and voting behavior, 1952–1996. American Journal of Political Science, 44, 35–50.Google Scholar
  14. Benjamin, D. J., & Shapiro, J. M. (2009). Thin-slice forecasts of gubernatorial elections. Review of Economics and Statistics, 91, 523–536.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Berry, D. S. (1990). What can a moving face tell us? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 1004–1014.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Blair, I. V., Judd, C. M., & Chapleau, K. M. (2004). The influence of afrocentric facial features in criminal sentencing. Psychological Science, 15, 674–679.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Blanz, V, & Vetter, T. (1999). A morphable model for the synthesis of 3D faces. In Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, 187–194.Google Scholar
  18. Blanz, V., & Vetter, T. (2003). Face recognition based on fitting a 3D morphable model. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 25, 1063–1074.Google Scholar
  19. Bould, E., & Morris, N. (2008). Role of motion signals in recognizing subtle facial expressions of emotion. British Journal of Psychology, 99, 167–189.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Bould, E., Morris, N., & Wink, B. (2008). Recognising subtle emotional expressions: The role of facial movements. Cognition & Emotion, 22, 1569–1587.Google Scholar
  21. Buckley, F., Collins, N., & Reidy, T. (2007). Ballot paper photographs and low-information elections in Ireland. Politics, 27, 174–181.Google Scholar
  22. Bucy, E. P. (2000). Emotional and evaluative consequences of inappropriate leader displays. Communication Research, 27, 194–226.Google Scholar
  23. Bucy, E. P., & Grabe, M. E. (2007). Taking television seriously: A sound and image bite analysis of presidential campaign coverage, 1992–2004. Journal of Communication, 57, 652–675.Google Scholar
  24. Castelli, L., Carraro, L., Ghitti, C., & Pastore, M. (2009). The effects of perceived competence and sociability on electoral outcomes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1152–1155.Google Scholar
  25. Cherulnik, P. D., Donley, K. A., Wiewel, T. S. R., & Miller, S. R. (2001). Charisma is contagious: The effect of leaders’ charisma on observers’ affect. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 31, 2149–2159.Google Scholar
  26. Chiao, J. Y., Bowman, N. E., & Gill, H. (2008). The political gender gap: Gender bias in facial inferences that predict voting behavior. PLoS ONE, 3, 1–7.Google Scholar
  27. Converse, P. E. (1964). The nature of belief systems in mass publics. In D. Apter (Ed.), Ideology and discontent. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  28. Druckman, J. N. (2003). The power of television images: The first Kennedy-Nixon debate revisited. Journal of Politics, 65, 559–571.Google Scholar
  29. Eberhardt, J. L., Davies, P. G., Purdie-Vaughns, V. J., & Johnson, S. L. (2006). Looking deathworthy: Perceived stereotypicality of Black defendants predicts capital-sentencing outcomes. Psychological Science, 17, 383–386.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Friedman, H., & Zebrowitz, L. A. (1992). The contribution of typical sex differences in facial maturity to sex role stereotypes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 430–438.Google Scholar
  31. Friedman, H. S., DiMatteo, M. R., & Mertz, T. I. (1980). Nonverbal communication on television news: The facial expressions of broadcasters during coverage of a presidential election campaign. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 6, 427–435.Google Scholar
  32. Gorn, G. J., Jiang, Y., & Johar, G. V. (2008). Babyfaces, trait inferences, and company evaluations in a public relations crisis. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 36–49.Google Scholar
  33. Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, W. B., Jr. (2003). A very brief measure of the Big-Five personality domains. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 504–528.Google Scholar
  34. Gregory, S. W., Jr., & Gallagher, T. J. (2002). Spectral analysis of candidates’ nonverbal vocal communication: Predicting U.S. presidential election outcomes. Social Psychology Quarterly, 65, 298–308.Google Scholar
  35. Hall, C. C., Goren, A., Chaiken, S., & Todorov, A. (2009). Shallow cues with deep effects: Trait judgments from faces and voting decisions. In E. Borgida, J. L. Sullivan, & C. M. Federico (Eds.), The political psychology of democratic citizenship (pp. 73–99). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hassin, R., & Trope, Y. (2000). Facing faces: Studies on the cognitive aspects of physiognomy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 837–852.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Hassin, R. R., Uleman, J. S., & Bargh, J. A. (Eds.). (2005). The new unconscious. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Huddy, L., & Terkildsen, N. (1993). Gender stereotypes and the perception of male and female candidates. American Journal of Political Science, 37, 119–147.Google Scholar
  39. John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 102–138). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  40. Johns, R., & Shephard, M. (2007). Gender, candidate image and electoral preference. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 9, 434–460.Google Scholar
  41. Kahn, K. F., & Kenney, P. J. (2002). The slant of the news. American Political Science Review, 96, 381–394.Google Scholar
  42. Kahneman, D. (2003). A perspective on judgment and choice. American Psychologist, 58, 697–720.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Kahneman, D., Slovic, P., & Tversky, A. (Eds.). (1982). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Keating, C. F., Randall, D., & Kendrick, T. (1999). Presidential physiognomies: Altered images, altered perceptions. Political Psychology, 20, 593–610.Google Scholar
  45. Kuklinski, J. H., & Quirk, P. J. (2000). Reconsidering the rational public: Cognition, heuristics, and mass opinion. In A. Lupia, M. D. McCubbins, & S. L. Popkin (Eds.), Elements of reason: Cognition, choice, and the bounds of rationality (pp. 153–182). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. LaBar, K. S., Crupain, M. J., Voyvodic, J. T., & McCarthy, G. (2003). Dynamic perception of facial affect and identity in the human brain. Cerebral Cortex, 13, 1023–1033.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Lakin, J. L. (2006). Automatic cognitive processes and nonverbal communication. In V. Manusov & M. L. Patterson (Eds.), The Sage handbook of nonverbal communication (pp. 59–77). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  48. Lander, K. (2008). Relating visual and vocal attractiveness for moving and static faces. Animal Behaviour, 75, 817–822.Google Scholar
  49. Lander, K., & Bruce, V. (2000). Recognizing famous faces: Exploring the benefits of facial motion. Ecological Psychology, 12, 259–272.Google Scholar
  50. Lander, K., & Bruce, V. (2003). The role of motion in learning new faces. Visual Cognition, 10, 897–912.Google Scholar
  51. Lander, K., Christie, F., & Bruce, V. (1999). The role of movement in the recognition of famous faces. Memory & Cognition, 27, 974–985.Google Scholar
  52. Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., & Smoot, M. (2000). Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 390–423.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Lau, R. R., & Redlawsk, D. P. (2001). Advantages and disadvantages of cognitive heuristics in political decision making. American Journal of Political Science, 45, 951–971.Google Scholar
  54. Lau, R. R., & Redlawsk, D. P. (2006). How voters decide: Information processing during election campaigns. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Lawson, C., & Lenz, G. S. (2007). Looking like a presidente: Appearance and electability among Mexican candidates. Unpublished manuscript, Department of political science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  56. Lenz, G., & Lawson, C. (2008). Looking the part: Television leads less informed citizens to vote based on candidates’ appearance. Unpublished manuscript, Department of political science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  57. Levine, G. M., Halberstadt, J. B., & Goldstone, R. L. (1996). Reasoning and the weighting of attributes in attitude judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 230–240.Google Scholar
  58. Little, A. C., Burriss, R. P., Jones, B. C., & Roberts, S. C. (2007). Facial appearance affects voting decisions. Evolution and Human Behavior, 28, 18–27.Google Scholar
  59. Locher, P., Unger, R., Sociedade, P., & Wahl, J. (1993). At first glance: Accessibility of the physical attractiveness stereotype. Sex Roles, 28, 729–743.Google Scholar
  60. Machiavelli, N. (1532/1898). The Prince. London: George Bell & Sons.Google Scholar
  61. Martin, D. S. (1978). Person perception and real-life electoral behavior. Australian Journal of Psychology, 30, 255.Google Scholar
  62. Mattes, K., Spezio, M. L., Kim, H., Todorov, A., Adolphs, R., & Alvarez, R.M. (in press). Predicting election outcomes from positive and negative trait assessments of candidate images. Political Psychology. Google Scholar
  63. Miller, A., Wattenberg, M., & Malanchuck, O. (1986). Schematic assessments of presidential candidates. American Political Science Review, 80, 521–540.Google Scholar
  64. Montepare, J. M., & Dobish, H. (2003). The contribution of emotion perception and their overgeneralization to trait impressions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 27, 237–254.Google Scholar
  65. Montepare, J. M., & Zebrowitz, L. A. (1998). Person perception comes of age: The salience and significance of age in social judgments. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 93–161.Google Scholar
  66. Mueller, U., & Mazur, A. (1996). Facial dominance of West Point cadets as predictor of later military rank. Social Forces, 74, 823–850.Google Scholar
  67. Mullen, B., Futrell, D., Stairs, D., Tice, D. M., Baumeister, R. F., Dawson, K. E., et al. (1986). Newscasters’ facial expressions and voting behavior of viewers: Can a smile elect a president? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 291–295.Google Scholar
  68. Naylor, R. W. (2007). Nonverbal cues-based first impressions: Impression formation through exposure to static images. Marketing Letters, 18, 165–179.Google Scholar
  69. Noller, P., Gallois, C., Hayes, A., & Bohle, P. (1988). Impressions of politicians: The effect of situation and communication channel. Australian Journal of Psychology, 40, 267–280.Google Scholar
  70. Olivola, C. Y., & Todorov, A. (in press). Fooled by first impressions? Reexamining the diagnostic value of appearance-based inferences. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Google Scholar
  71. Olivola, C. Y., Eastwick, P. W., Finkel, E. J., Hortaçsu, A., Ariely, D., & Todorov, A. (2009). A picture is worth a thousand inferences: First impressions and mate selection in Internet matchmaking and speed-dating. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences, University College London.Google Scholar
  72. Olson, I. R., & Marshuetz, C. (2005). Facial attractiveness is appraised in a glance. Emotion, 5, 498–502.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Oosterhof, N. N., & Todorov, A. (2008). The functional basis of face evaluation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 105, 11087–11092.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. Oosterhof, N. N., & Todorov, A. (2009). Shared perceptual basis of emotional expressions and trustworthiness impressions from faces. Emotion, 9, 128–133.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Peskin, M., & Newell, F. N. (2004). Familiarity breeds attraction: Effects of exposure on the attractiveness of typical and distinctive faces. Perception, 33, 147–157.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  76. Pope, D. G., & Sydnor, J. (2008). What’s in a picture? Evidence of discrimination from Prosper.com. Unpublished manuscript, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  77. Poutvaara, P., Jordahl, H., & Berggren, N. (2009). Faces of politicians: Babyfacedness predicts inferred competence but not electoral success. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1132–1135.Google Scholar
  78. Quattrone, G. A., & Tversky, A. (1988). Contrasting rational and psychological analysis of political choice. American Political Science Review, 82, 716–736.Google Scholar
  79. Ravina, E. (2008). Love & loans: The effect of beauty and personal characteristics in credit markets. Unpublished manuscript, Columbia University.Google Scholar
  80. Riggle, E. D. (1992). Cognitive strategies and models of voter judgments. American Politics Quarterly, 20, 227–246.Google Scholar
  81. Rosenberg, S. W., Kahn, S., & Tran, T. (1991). Creating a political image: Shaping appearance and manipulating the vote. Political Behavior, 13, 345–367.Google Scholar
  82. Rubenstein, A. J. (2005). Variation in perceived attractiveness: Differences between dynamic and static faces. Psychological Science, 16, 759–762.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. Rule, N. O., & Ambady, N. (2008). The face of success: Inferences of personality from chief executive officers’ appearance predict company profits. Psychological Science, 19, 109–111.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  84. Rule, N. O., Ambady, N., Adams, R. B., Jr., & Macrae, C. N. (2008). Accuracy and awareness in the perception and categorization of male sexual orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1019–1028.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  85. Rule, N. O., Ambady, N., Adams, R. B., Jr., Ozono, H., Nakashima, S., Yoshikawa, S., & Watabe, M. (in press). Polling the face: Prediction and consensus across cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.Google Scholar
  86. Said, C., Sebe, N., & Todorov, A. (2009). Structural resemblance to emotional expressions predicts evaluation of emotionally neutral faces. Emotion, 9, 260–264.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  87. Sato, W., & Yoshikawa, S. (2007). Enhanced experience of emotional arousal in response to dynamic facial expressions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 31, 119–135.Google Scholar
  88. Sato, W., Kochiyama, T., Yoshikawa, S., Naito, E., & Matsumura, M. (2004). Enhanced neural activity in response to dynamic facial expressions of emotion: An fMRI study. Cognitive Brain Research, 20, 81–91.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  89. Sato, W., Fujimura, T., & Suzuki, N. (2008). Enhanced facial EMG activity in response to dynamic facial expressions. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 70, 70–74.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  90. Shephard, M., & Johns, R. (2008). Candidate image and electoral preference in Britain. British Politics, 3, 324–349.Google Scholar
  91. Singular Inversions. (2006). FaceGen 3.1 Ful l SDK Documentation. http://facegen.com.
  92. Spezio, M. L., Rangel, A., Alvarez, R. M., O’Doherty, J. P., Mattes, K., Todorov, A., et al. (2008). A neural basis for the effect of candidate appearance on election outcomes. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 3, 344–352.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  93. Thornton, I. M., & Kourtzi, Z. (2002). A matching advantage for dynamic human faces. Perception, 31, 113–132.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  94. Todorov, A. (2008). Evaluating faces on trustworthiness: An extension of systems for recognition of emotions signaling approach/avoidance behaviors. In A. Kingstone & M. Miller (Eds.), The Year in Cognitive Neuroscience 2008: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Vol. 1124, pp. 208–224).Google Scholar
  95. Todorov, A. (in press). Evaluating faces on social dimensions. In A. Todorov, S.T. Fiske, & D. Prentice (Eds.), Social neuroscience: Toward understanding the underpinnings of the social mind. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  96. Todorov, A., & Uleman, J. S. (2002). Spontaneous trait inferences are bound to actor’s faces: Evidence from a false recognition paradigm. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1051–1065.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  97. Todorov, A., & Uleman, J. S. (2003). The efficiency of binding spontaneous trait inferences to actor’s faces. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 549–562.Google Scholar
  98. Todorov, A., Chaiken, S., & Henderson, M. D. (2002). The heuristic-systematic model of social information processing. In J. P. Dillard & M. Pfau (Eds.), The persuasion handbook: Developments in theory and practice (pp. 195–211). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  99. Todorov, A., Mandisodza, A. N., Goren, A., & Hall, C. (2005). Inferences of competence from faces predict election outcomes. Science, 308, 1623–1626.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  100. Todorov, A., Said, C. P., Engell, A. D., & Oosterhof, N. N. (2008). Understanding evaluation of faces on social dimensions. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12, 455–460.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  101. Todorov, A., Pakrashi, M., & Oosterhof, N. N. (2009). Evaluating faces on trustworthiness after minimal time exposure. Social Cognition, 27, 813–833.Google Scholar
  102. Trent, J., Mongeau, P., Trent, J., Kendall, K., & Cushing, R. (1993). The ideal candidate: A study of the desired attributes of the public and the media across two presidential campaigns. American Behavioral Scientist, 37, 225–239.Google Scholar
  103. Willis, J., & Todorov, A. (2006). First impressions: Making up your mind after 100 ms exposure to a face. Psychological Science, 17, 592–598.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  104. Wilson, T. D., & Schooler, J. W. (1991). Thinking too much: Introspection can reduce the quality of preferences and decisions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 181–192.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  105. Yoshikawa, S., & Sato, W. (2006). Enhanced perceptual, emotional, and motor processing in response to dynamic facial expressions of emotion. Japanese Psychological Research, 48, 213–222.Google Scholar
  106. Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Monograph Supplement, 9, 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  107. Zaller, J. R. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  108. Zarkadi, T., Wade, K. A., & Stewart, N. (2009). Creating fair lineups for suspects with distinctive features. Psychological Science, 20, 1448–1453.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  109. Zebrowitz, L. A. (1997). Reading faces: Window to the soul? Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  110. Zebrowitz, L. A. (2004). The origins of first impressions. Journal of Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology, 2, 93–108.Google Scholar
  111. Zebrowitz, L. A., & McDonald, S. M. (1991). The impact of litigants’ babyfacedness and attractiveness on adjudication in small claims courts. Law and Human Behavior, 15, 603–623.Google Scholar
  112. Zebrowitz, L. A., & Montepare, J. M. (2005). Appearance DOES matter. Science, 308, 1565–1566.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  113. Zebrowitz, L. A., & Montepare, J. M. (2006). The ecological approach to person perception: Evolutionary roots and contemporary offshoots. In M. Schaller, J. A. Simpson, & D. T. Kenrick (Eds.), Evolution and social psychology (pp. 81–113). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  114. Zebrowitz, L. A., & Montepare, J. M. (2008). Social psychological face perception: Why appearance matters. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 1497–1517.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  115. Zebrowitz, L. A., Fellous, J. M., Mignault, A., & Andreoletti, C. (2003). Trait impressions as overgeneralized responses to adaptively significant facial qualities: Evidence from connectionist modeling. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7, 194–215.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  116. Zebrowitz, L. A., White, B., & Wieneke, K. (2008). Mere exposure and racial prejudice: Exposure to other-race faces increases liking for strangers of that race. Social Cognition, 26, 259–275.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  117. Zebrowitz-McArthur, L., & Montepare, J. M. (1989). Contributions of a babyface and a childlike voice to impressions of moving and talking faces. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 13, 189–203.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain SciencesUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

Personalised recommendations