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


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.


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



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)


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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

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