Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
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Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) Working Paper Series

No 803:
Faces of Politicians: Babyfacedness Predicts Inferred Competence but Not Electoral Success

Panu Poutvaara (), Henrik Jordahl () and Niclas Berggren ()

Abstract: Recent research has documented that competent-looking political candidates do better in U.S. elections and that babyfaced individuals are generally perceived to be less competent than maturefaced individuals. Taken together, this suggests that babyfaced political candidates are perceived as less competent and therefore fare worse in elections. We test this hypothesis, making use of photograph-based judgments by 2,772 respondents of the facial appearance of 1,785 Finnish political candidates. Our results confirm that babyfacedness is negatively related to inferred competence in politics. Despite this, babyfacedness is either unrelated or positively related to electoral success, depending on the sample of candidates.

Keywords: Babyfacedness; Competence; Beauty; Trustworthiness; Elections; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D72; J45; J70; (follow links to similar papers)

16 pages, June 26, 2009

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This paper is published as:
Berggren, Niclas, Henrik Jordahl and Panu Poutvaara, (2009), 'Faces of Politicians: Babyfacedness Predicts Inferred Competence but Not Electoral Success', Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 45, No. 5, pages 1132-1135

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