Faces of Politicians: Babyfacedness Predicts Inferred Competence but Not Electoral Success

IFN Working Paper No. 803

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 45, No. 5, pp. 1132-1135, 2009

17 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2009 Last revised: 30 Nov 2009

See all articles by Panu Poutvaara

Panu Poutvaara

University of Helsinki - Department of Economics; Helsinki Center of Economic Research (HECER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Henrik Jordahl

Örebro University - School of Business; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); CESifo; IZA

Niclas Berggren

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); University of Economics, Prague - Faculty of Economics and Public Administration

Date Written: June 26, 2009

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

JEL Classification: D72, J45, J70

Suggested Citation

Poutvaara, Panu and Jordahl, Henrik and Berggren, Niclas, Faces of Politicians: Babyfacedness Predicts Inferred Competence but Not Electoral Success (June 26, 2009). IFN Working Paper No. 803, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 45, No. 5, pp. 1132-1135, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1488372

Panu Poutvaara

University of Helsinki - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 54
FIN-00014 Helsinki
Finland

HOME PAGE: http://www.valt.helsinki.fi/blogs/poutvaar/

Helsinki Center of Economic Research (HECER) ( email )

FI-00014 Helsinki
Finland

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Henrik Jordahl (Contact Author)

Örebro University - School of Business ( email )

SE-70182 Orebro, Örebro SE-701 82
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.oru.se/personal/henrik_jordahl

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifn.se/hj

CESifo ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Niclas Berggren

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifn.se/nb

University of Economics, Prague - Faculty of Economics and Public Administration ( email )

nám. W. Churchilla 4
Praha, 130 67
Czech Republic

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