Advertisement

Political Behavior

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 883–898 | Cite as

The Politics of Beauty: The Effects of Partisan Bias on Physical Attractiveness

  • Stephen P. NicholsonEmail author
  • Chelsea M. Coe
  • Jason Emory
  • Anna V. Song
Original Paper

Abstract

Does politics cause people to be perceived as more or less attractive? As a type of social identity, party identifiers often exhibit in-group bias, positively evaluating members of their own party and, especially under conditions of competition, negatively evaluating out-party members. The current experiment tests whether political in-party and out-party status affects perceptions of the physical attractiveness of target persons. In a nationally representative internet sample of U.S. adults during the 2012 presidential election, we presented participants with photos of individuals and varied information about their presidential candidate preference. Results indicate that partisans, regardless of gender, rate target individuals as less attractive if they hold a dissimilar candidate preference. Female partisans, however, were more likely to rate target persons as more physically attractive when they held a similar candidate preference whereas no such effect was found for male partisans.

Keywords

Physical attractiveness Party identification Party cues Social judgment Partisan polarization Social distance Mate selection 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Matt DeBell, Diane Felmlee, and Alex Theodoridis for helpful comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

11109_2016_9339_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (142 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 142 kb)

References

  1. Abramowitz, A. I., & Saunders, K. L. (2008). Is polarization a myth? Journal of Politics, 70(02), 542–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alford, J. R., Hatemi, P. K., Hibbing, J. R., Martin, N. G., & Eaves, L. J. (2011). The politics of mate choice. Journal of Politics, 73(02), 362–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartels, L. M. (2002). Beyond the running tally: Partisan bias in political perceptions. Political Behavior, 24(2), 117–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bolsen, T., Druckman, J. N., & Cook, F. L. (2014). The influence of partisan motivated reasoning on public opinion. Political Behavior, 36(2), 235–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brewer, M. B. (1991). The social self: On being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17(5), 475–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bullock, J. G. (2011). Elite influence on public opinion in an informed electorate. American Political Science Review, 105(3), 496–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buss, D. M. (1998). Sexual strategies theory: Historical origins and current status. Journal of Sex Research, 35(1), 19–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., Miller, W. E., & Stokes, D. E. (1960). The American Voter. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  9. Chen, F. F., & Kenrick, D. T. (2002). Repulsion or attraction? Group membership and assumed attitude similarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(1), 111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Converse, P. E. (1964). The nature of belief systems in mass politics. In D. E. Apter (Ed.), Ideology and discontent (pp. 206–261). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  11. Fiorina, M. P., Abrams, S. J., & Pope, J. C. (2005). Culture war? The myth of a polarized America. New York: Pearson Longman.Google Scholar
  12. Goren, P., Federico, C. M., & Kittilson, M. C. (2009). Source cues, partisan identities, and political value expression. American Journal of Political Science, 53(4), 805–820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Groenendyk, E. W. (2013). Competing motives in the partisan mind: How loyalty and responsiveness shape party identification and democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hamermesh, D. S. (2011). Beauty pays: Why attractive people are more successful. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Heit, E., & Nicholson, S. P. (2010). The opposite of Republican: Polarization and political categorization. Cognitive Science, 34(8), 1503–1516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hetherington, M. J. (2001). Resurgent mass partisanship: The role of elite polarization. American Political Science Review, 95(3), 619–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hetherington, M. J. (2015). Why polarized trust matters. The Forum, 13(3), 445–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hetherington, M. J., & Rudolph, T. J. (2015). Why Washington won’t work: Polarization, political trust, and the governing crisis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hibbing, J. R., & Theiss-Morse, E. (2002). Stealth democracy: Americans’ beliefs about how government should work. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Huber, G., & Malhotra, N. (2013). Dimensions of political homophily: Isolating choice homophily along political characteristics. Paper presented at the American Political Science Association annual meeting, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
  21. Huddy, L. (2001). From social to political identity: A critical examination of social identity theory. Political Psychology, 22(1), 127–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Huddy, L., Mason, L., & Aarøe, L. (2015). Expressive partisanship: Campaign involvement, political emotion, and partisan identity. American Political Science Review, 109(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Iyengar, S., Sood, G., & Lelkes, Y. (2012). Affect, not ideology: A social identity perspective on polarization. Public Opinion Quarterly, 76(3), 405–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Iyengar, S., & Westwood, S. J. (2015). Fear and loathing across party lines: New evidence on group polarization. American Journal of Political Science, 59(3), 690–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jacoby, W. G. (1988). The impact of party identification on issue attitudes. American Journal of Political Science, 32(3), 643–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Keith, B. E., Magleby, D. B., Nelson, C. J., Orr, E., & Westlye, M. C. (1992). The myth of the independent voter. Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kernell, S., Jacobson, G. C., & Kousser, T. (2012). The logic of American politics (5th edn.). Los Angeles: CQ Press.Google Scholar
  28. Klar, S., & Krupnikov, Y. (2016). Independent politics: how American disdain for parties leads to political inaction. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Klofstad, C. A., McDermott, R., & Hatemi, P. K. (2012). Do bedroom eyes wear political glasses? The role of politics in human mate attraction. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33(2), 100–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kniffin, K. M., & Wilson, D. S. (2004). The effect of nonphysical traits on the perception of physical attractiveness: Three naturalistic studies. Evolution and Human Behavior, 25(2), 88–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 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(3), 390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Levendusky, M. (2009). The partisan sort: How liberals became Democrats and conservatives became Republicans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lewis-Beck, M. S., Jacoby, W. G., Norpoth, H., & Weisberg, H. F. (2008). The American voter revisited. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mason, L. (2015). “I Disrespectfully Agree”: The differential effects of partisan sorting on social and issue polarization. American Journal of Political Science, 59(1), 128–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mazzella, R., & Feingold, A. (1994). The effects of physical attractiveness, race, socioeconomic status, and gender of defendants and victims on judgments of mock jurors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24(15), 1315–1344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McCarty, N., Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (2006). Polarized America: The dance of ideology and unequal riches. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  37. Miller, P. R., & Conover, P. J. (2015). Red and blue states of mind: Partisan hostility and voting in the United States. Political Research Quarterly, 68(2), 225–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nicholson, S. P. (2011). Dominating Cues and the Limits of Elite Influence. Journal of Politics, 73(4), 1165–1177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nicholson, S. P. (2012). Polarizing cues. American Journal of Political Science, 56(1), 52–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nicholson, S. P., & Segura, G. M. (2012). Who’s the party of the people? Economic populism and the U.S. public’s beliefs about political parties. Political Behavior, 34(2), 369–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rahn, W. (1993). The role of partisan stereotypes in information processing about political candidates. American Journal of Political Science, 37, 472–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rhodes, G., Simmons, L. W., & Peters, M. (2005). Attractiveness and sexual behavior: Does attractiveness enhance mating success? Evolution & Human Behavior, 26(2), 186–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rule, N. O., & Ambady, N. (2010). Democrats and Republicans can be differentiated from their faces. PLoS One, 5(1), 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Samochoweic, J., Wänke, M., & Fiedler, K. (2010). Political ideology at face value. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1(3), 206–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Slothuus, R., & de Vreese, C. H. (2010). Political parties, motivated reasoning, and issue framing effects. Journal of Politics, 72(3), 630–645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sniderman, P. M., & Stiglitz, E. H. (2012). The reputational premium. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Swami, V., & Furnham, A. (2008). The psychology of physical attraction. New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  48. Taber, C. S., & Lodge, M. (2006). Motivated skepticism in the evaluation of political beliefs. American Journal of Political Science, 50(3), 755–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tajfel, H. (1970). Experiments in intergroup discrimination. Scientific American, 223(5), 96–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tajfel, H. (1982). Social psychology of intergroup relations. Annual Review of Psychology, 33(1), 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Townsend, J. M., & Levy, G. D. (1990). Effects of potential partners’ physical attractiveness and socioeconomic status on sexuality and partner selection. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 19(2), 149–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vavreck, L., & Rivers, D. (2008). The 2006 cooperative congressional election study. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 18(4), 355–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhong, C. B., Phillips, K. W., Leonardelli, G. J., & Galinsky, A. D. (2008). Negational categorization and intergroup behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 793–806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen P. Nicholson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chelsea M. Coe
    • 1
  • Jason Emory
    • 2
  • Anna V. Song
    • 3
  1. 1.Political ScienceUniversity of California, MercedMercedUSA
  2. 2.PsychologyCalifornia State University, StanislausTurlockUSA
  3. 3.Psychological SciencesUniversity of California, MercedMercedUSA

Personalised recommendations