January 16, 2010

Democrats and Republicans really do look different

It would be really neat if someone did a facial composite of the average Democrat/Republican using e.g., all Caucasoid US senators belonging to either party.

I think it's fairly easy to distinguish between Greek politicians belonging to different parties as well. Here's my guide to some typical traits of Greek politicians (of course there are numerous exceptions):

Right-wing: regular suit and tie, shaved, "managerial" look
Center-left: higher probability of sporting a mustache
Communists: never wear ties, usually shaved, "faux-proletarian" look
Radical Left: never wear ties, higher probability of being unshaved, "leftist-intellectual" look
Extra-parliamentary left: never wear ties, unshaved, unkempt hair, "revolutionary" Che Guevara wannabes

PLoS ONE doi:http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0008733

Democrats and Republicans Can Be Differentiated from Their Faces

Nicholas O. Rule, Nalini Ambady


Individuals' faces communicate a great deal of information about them. Although some of this information tends to be perceptually obvious (such as race and sex), much of it is perceptually ambiguous, without clear or obvious visual cues.

Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we found that individuals' political affiliations could be accurately discerned from their faces. In Study 1, perceivers were able to accurately distinguish whether U.S. Senate candidates were either Democrats or Republicans based on photos of their faces. Study 2 showed that these effects extended to Democrat and Republican college students, based on their senior yearbook photos. Study 3 then showed that these judgments were related to differences in perceived traits among the Democrat and Republican faces. Republicans were perceived as more powerful than Democrats. Moreover, as individual targets were perceived to be more powerful, they were more likely to be perceived as Republicans by others. Similarly, as individual targets were perceived to be warmer, they were more likely to be perceived as Democrats.

These data suggest that perceivers' beliefs about who is a Democrat and Republican may be based on perceptions of traits stereotypically associated with the two political parties and that, indeed, the guidance of these stereotypes may lead to categorizations of others' political affiliations at rates significantly more accurate than chance guessing.


1 comment:

Maju said...

Funny because I also find differences (no warranty - very subjective) between Spanish conservative and socialdemocrats (other groups not really): conservatives are generally more tanned (with a yellowish tinge) in any season while socialdemocrats often sport a wintery pinkish skin almost year-round. I presume it may have to do on how fashionable are UVA beds and sunbathing in general in either political subculture.

Also Basque unionist tories tend to be very ugly, though this trait is not apparent through the state.