The Gendered Face of Partisan Politics: Consequences of Facial Sex Typicality for Vote Choice

Colleen M. Carpinella, Eric Hehman, Jonathan B. Freeman, Kerri L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Facial cues are consequential for voters’ behavior at the polls. Yet the facial cues that are associated with vote choice remain under-examined. We predicted that vote choice judgments rely, in part, on the sex typicality of facial cues (i.e., the degree of facial masculinity and femininity) that vary as a function of candidate gender and partisan identification. Stimuli included image pairs of winners and runners-up in the elections for the 111th U.S. House of Representatives. In Study 1, we found that female Republican candidates who appeared relatively more feminine and male Republican candidates who looked relatively less masculine in their appearance were more likely to win their election. Democratic candidates’ electoral success was not related to their sex typicality. In Study 2, we found that relatively masculine-appearing Democrats and feminine-appearing Republicans were more likely to be selected in a hypothetical vote choice task. Implications for U.S. partisan politics are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-38
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016


  • gender
  • political psychology
  • politician perception
  • social categorization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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