All we need is the candidate’s face: The irrelevance of information about political coalition affiliation and campaign promises

Lucia Mannetti, Ambra Brizi, Jocelyn Belanger, Ilaria Bufalari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent research has indicated that judgments of competence based on very short exposure to political candidates’ faces reliably predict electoral success. An unexplored question is whether presenting written information of the kind to which voters are typically exposed during an election alongside candidates’ faces affects competence judgments. We conducted three studies using photographs of 16 pairs of competing politicians in 16 medium-sized towns of northeast Italy as stimuli. Study 1 confirmed the external validity of earlier research in which participants were exposed to candidates’ faces without providing any other information. Study 2a showed that competence judgments were not subject to in-group favoritism: candidates’ faces were presented alongside information about the political coalition to which they belonged (center left; center right) to participants who declared a left or right political orientation. Finally, Study 2c compared the competence inferences made in Study 1 (face-only condition) with those of Study 2a (face plus political coalition label) and with new inferences (Study 2b) based on candidates’ faces plus information about campaign promises (greater equality; lower taxes). The results showed that automatic competence inferences are not substantially modified when relevant written information is presented alongside candidates’ faces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1268365
JournalCogent Psychology
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 31 2016

Keywords

  • candidate’s face
  • first impressions
  • political choices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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