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Inferences of Competence from Faces Predict Election Outcomes

Science  10 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5728, pp. 1623-1626
DOI: 10.1126/science.1110589

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Abstract

We show that inferences of competence based solely on facial appearance predicted the outcomes of U.S. congressional elections better than chance (e.g., 68.8% of the Senate races in 2004) and also were linearly related to the margin of victory. These inferences were specific to competence and occurred within a 1-second exposure to the faces of the candidates. The findings suggest that rapid, unreflective trait inferences can contribute to voting choices, which are widely assumed to be based primarily on rational and deliberative considerations.

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