February 27, 2009

Study: Appearance affects voting choices

Swiss researchers said their study indicates that voters may be heavily biased by the physical appearances of political candidates.

University of Lausanne economists John Antonakis and Olaf Dalgas said adult participants in the study were shown pictures of two unfamiliar political candidates and chose the correct winner as their preferred candidate based on appearances alone more than 70 percent of the time, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

The researchers said a repeat of the experiment using children under the age of 13 reached nearly the same results.

Antonakis said the findings suggest that people making voting decisions based on appearance rather than issues from an early age.

People are lousy at really paying attention to facts and evidence and are totally biased by what I call the unthinking mind, he said.

Antonakis said a side experiment he ran last summer involved children viewing photographs of then-U.S. presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain.

Children really went for Obama like crazy, he said.