- Posted November 5, 2012 by
Watertown, New York
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Can You Spot a Republican (or a Democrat) Just By Looking at One?
"Enormous sums of money have been spent on polls, ads, campaigns, and coverage of this year’s dead-even White House contest.
There’s even research that tracks and interprets the candidates’ eye blinks.
But what if voter decisions boil down to a quick reaction to the way somebody looks?
Imagine an experiment in which a pair of photos is shown to a group of children who are presumably not versed in politics.
One is of Barack Obama’s face.
The other is of Mitt Romney’s.
After they’ve seen the pictures, the children are asked a simple question: “Who would you rather be the captain of your ship?”
Psychological research suggests that such a question might be the most relevant one of all.
The 2008 experiment was performed by researchers in Switzerland, but the candidates were French and the kids were Swiss—making them even less aware of the politicians.
As a group, the children guessed the winners of real elections with 71 percent accuracy.
They even predicted Obama would win the 2008 election.
Although you wouldn’t think it, just by looking at someone’s face, we immediately know a lot about them.
From bone structure, we know a person’s gender. From their expression, we know their mood. We’re decent guessers of a person’s age.
But these are the easy ones. Our ability to read faces goes much deeper than these surface features.
Turns out, faces even reveal what their owners believe.
The children in the study aren’t outliers. A landmark 2005 study by Alexander Todorov, published in the journal Science, found that people were able to predict the outcomes of the 2004 U.S. Senate and House elections just by looking at faces of candidates for 1 second. “This happens without any prior knowledge of the politician’s policies, without any exposure to campaign advertising, and without information about the politician’s experience,” said Kerri Johnson, a research psychologist at the University of California (Los Angeles). "
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