Political Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 301–325 | Cite as

A High Bar or a Double Standard? Gender, Competence, and Information in Political Campaigns

  • Tessa DitontoEmail author
Original Paper


This study seeks to determine whether subjects in two dynamic process tracing experiments react differently to information related to a candidate’s competence when that candidate is a woman, vs. when he is a man. I find that subjects evaluate a candidate whose competence is in doubt less favorably, and are less likely to vote for the candidate, when she is a woman. In general, evaluations of women seem to be influenced much more by information related to their competence than are evaluations of men. I also find that competence as portrayed by the composition of a candidate’s facial features does not alter this relationship. My findings suggest that gender-based stereotypes may have an indirect effect on candidate evaluations and vote choice by influencing how voters react to information about them.


Gender Stereotypes Information processing Impression formation Voting behavior Candidate evaluation 



This research was funded in part by a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation. A previous version of the paper was presented at the New Research on Gender and Political Psychology conference at the College of Wooster in 2014. Many thanks to all the participants there for the inspiration and support, and especially to Kris Kanthak, Nichole Bauer, Amanda Johnston, and Rebecca Bigler for their very thoughtful feedback. Thanks also to Rick Lau, Dave Redlawsk, Kira Sanbonmatsu, Jennifer Merolla, Dave Andersen, Amy Erica Smith, and Robert Urbatsch for their comments on various versions of the paper.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 498 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Iowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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