Women

Women With Feminine Features Win More Votes, Especially Among Conservatives

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A new Dartmouth College–led study found that voters favor female politicians who have more feminine features, especially in conservative states. Gendered facial cues—eye shape, eyebrow shape, cheekbones, jawline, the presence of makeup—unconsciously influence voter perceptions and "may translate into real-world political outcomes," the researchers say. 

In a computerized survey administered in person and over the Internet, about 300 participants were shown facial photos of the winners and runners-up in U.S. Senate and gubernatorial elections between 1998 and 2010. Respondents were asked to immediately categorize the faces as male or female and, without being given any background information, asked whether they would vote for them.

The more participants were drawn to categorize a female politician's face as male, the less likely they were to say they would vote for her. This corresponded to voting behavior in reality, with more masculine-looking women less likely to have won their elections.

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"These cues are processed within only milliseconds after seeing another's face," said senior study author Jon Freeman, director of Dartmouth's Social Cognitive & Neural Sciences Lab at Dartmouth. "It's important to examine how facial cues could inadvertently affect female politicians' electoral success, especially given the possibility of a female U.S. president in the near future and the rising number of women in Congress."

I'm not convinced it's "important"—that appearance in general affects public perception of politicians is no secret. It might be interesting. There have been a bevy of studies looking at how looks play a role in the politicians's success (see here, herehere, here, here, and here). 

Freeman's study—published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science—echoes a UCLA study published in 2012. In that study, researchers (including two who also collaborated on this recent study) looked at the facial features of women in the U.S. House of Representatives. Those with more stereotypically feminine features were more likely to be Republican, and the correlation increased the more conservative the lawmaker's voting record. Lady legislators with less traditionally feminine facial features were more likely to be Democrats, fitting with the Dartmouth study finding that feminine faces offer a greater electoral advantage in conservative states. 

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  1. this may explain Clay Aiken

    1. Didn’t he run as a Dem? Unless you’re saying that they like their male politicians to be sexually ambiguous as well.

      1. or are you saying he’s really a female who resembles a man?

        Ugh, I miss when we only had old white guys running for office. Less confusing.

  2. How does that explain Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe?

    1. Debbie Wasserman says that your study is horribly, horribly flawed.

      1. Only if somebody told her to say it.

      2. isn’t it DWS who is horribly flawed? In ways far beyond appearance?

    2. Olympia Snowe wasn’t all that bad looking when she was younger.

      Most people do not find 67-year-old women particularly attractive. Especially ones that haven’t aged that well.

  3. “Lady legislators with less traditionally feminine facial features were more likely to be Democrats”

    ARRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!! PELOSI, SMASH!!!

    1. But what about cankles? Did they study the effect of cankles?

  4. So the lesson is that the First Wookie should never run for office as a Republican?

  5. When I see a study like this, with all its handwringing, my mind immediately goes to Harrison Bergeron.

    1. Progressives see Diana Moon Glampers as the hero.

      1. Believe it or not, there are people who view Harrison as the villain.

  6. I feel there is possibly some causation uncertainty here. Is it possible that women who have more traditonally femine facial features are just more likely to be successful generally/ more confident,therefore more likely to be in politics as legit candidates? Like how Presidents tend to be taller than average.

    And maybe re the more conservative part, how one is reponded to in one’s social interactions over their lifetime due to the features also shapes one’s world views?

    Maybe that’s not it, but it takes a couple more logical steps to get from this correlation, to the conclusions that they land at. This has a good dose of correlation is not causation.

    1. Yeah – her glasses are the SHIT

    2. Oh my God! You dick!

  7. These findings have something for everyone! Democrats get to tell themselves that Republicans are all sexist, and Republicans get to tell themselves that Democrats are all ugly.

    1. It’s a sign of our dysfunctional intellectual climate that men prefering feminine-looking women is considered sexist. It seems to me that if a man prefers masculine-looking women, that means he favors masculinity over femininity. THAT is sexist.

      1. It seems to me that if a man prefers masculine-looking women, that means he favors masculinity over femininity.

        NTTAWWT

  8. I wish the universal conclusion to these many studies showing the irrational, or at least subconscious, factors to voting would be: maybe we should reduce the parts of life that are subject to control by the results of this voting.

    1. I think that liberals would say “We’re totally rational because we’re NOT prone to voting for attractive people. Those Republicans are the irrational ones”

      But I just think it’s one of their empty gestures that’s supposed to prove their progressive ideals. Instead of voting for someone because they’re attractive, they vote for someone because they’re unattractive

    2. “…maybe we should reduce the parts of life that are subject to control by the results of this voting.”

      I like this. But the problem is, even with that, we still keep voting statist, power-hungry fucktards into office… it may be that they are the only ones RUNNING FOR OFFICE. If you don’t have a power-boner, after all, you probably aren’t real concernecd about seeking power….

    1. ^ Alaska goddamit^

  9. Collins and Snowe are from New England. New England has strange ideas of feminine beauty.

  10. So, we are now going to acknowledge Palin’s physical attractiveness, yah? Say what you will of whatever else, the woman is good-looking! And after 5 kids to boot!

  11. Yet more evidence that people vote on all the wrong principles.

    I propose a new technocracy where officials are appointed every 2-6 years by computer algorithms designed by libertarian engineers. To defend against abuse of power each official is subjected to a recall election every 3-6 months.

    1. If this is true, why are so many politicians so ugly? Explain Elizabeth Warren!!

      1. Native Americans have differing cultural standards of attractiveness.

    2. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to be a fembot living in a manbot’s manputer’s world?”

      1. One of the best episodes.

        1. On god, you’re killing me.

          1. Did you explain to them they make up for their lack dunking with strong fundamentals?

    3. I propose a new technocracy where officials are appointed every 2-6 years days by computer algorithms designed by libertarian engineers. To defend against abuse of power each official is subjected to a recall election every 3-6 months hours.

      FIFY

  12. Another example of misunderstanding causality. Maybe it is that women who hold conservative views tend to have more feminine features and thus get more votes from conservatives? Is there an example of a deeply liberal but feminine woman attracting conservative voters?

    1. I nominate Jennifer Granholm….

      1. She is attractive, but did she get any conservative votes?

        1. I just figure she must have…No figures to back it up. It was the best I could do.

        2. Conservatives are law-and-order types, meaning they all have a secret desire to be handcuffed and punished by a blonde attorney general.

    2. A misunderstanding of causality several layers deep. The results, in no way, corroborate outcome.

      Even based on strictly the claims of the study, it’s not clear that a ‘sufficiently attractive’ conservative woman would fall to an ‘exceptionally attractive’ conservative woman. Let alone saying anything about a mutilated gargoyle from either party with two X chromosomes running against a grotesque troll with one Y.

      Getting shot turned Gabby Gifford decidedly more masculine :(. However, it appears to have made her more conservatively popular at the same time.

  13. Edna. Wow.

    CILF.

  14. One issue I have with this study is that it talks about facial FEATURES and not overall femininity.

    Basically “having feminine facial features” means you’re a WASP – because WASP female characteristics defined the norm for so long. You can be a WASP with highly feminine features and not be stereotypically feminine in your personality. (Hi, Ellen Page.)

    So basically the study is merely proving that Republicans run fewer ethnic female candidates than Democrats. Wow, Sherlock, thanks for that data.

  15. If the results of this study are even halfway accurate, then I can confidently say that our next president will be Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

    1. Damn. I throw myself upon the mercy of the court.

      1. I’d like to sit for her bar exam, if you know what I mean.

        (TIWTANFL)

    2. How freaking old is that picture? No way is that the picture of a 48 year old woman, even if she has Cher’s plastic surgeon on retainer.

      1. Photoshop is a wonderful thing.

      2. That was my first thought.

        Is that her law school graduation picture, maybe?

        1. Uh, maybe high school?

      3. http://www.csmonitor.com/var/e…..ll_600.jpg

        A more recent photo, still pretty good for 48.

        1. I’d hit that!!
          Well, if she wasn’t laughing too hard to lie still. I think the proper phrase is “There’s not enough booze in the world…”

          1. She is already on dude #3, so she will get around to you eventually.

            Two previous marriages and one “unofficial” ceremony with current guy.

            1. It’s kind of interesting that Florida’s chief law enforcement official is currently violating Florida’s cohabitation law.

              I’d expect this kind of thing from those heathen Democrats but I think a good christian Republican woman should live better. 😉

        2. That’s kind of an unflattering photo.

          This one is relatively recent:

          http://historiccity.com/wp-con…..d_3720.gif

          I definitely would, although then I’d bitch at her for opposing medical marijuana.

          1. That’s kind of an unflattering photo.

            I agree. And she still looks decent in it.

  16. In related news, studies show that the sky is blue on cloudless days!

  17. I’m assuming they also ran a study on whether people are more likely to vote for men with masculine features?

    If not, why not? Are they just sexist bigots, or what?

    1. this may *not* explain Clay Aiken

    2. If not, why not? Are they just sexist bigots, or what?

      Off the cuff, I get the impression that physical characteristics enhancing the electability of men has been studied into the ground with massive efforts devoted to continuing digging as well as re-inventing the shovel and discovering which handgrip on the shovel is most effective.

      1. Bigotry it is, then.

    3. How the fuck do you explain Henry Waxman?

      1. This observation doesn’t apply to non-humans?

        KLAATU BARADA NIKTO!

  18. SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOCKKKKKKKKER!

  19. Sexual Dimorphism FTW!

  20. Let the preemptive excuse-making begin!

    “It’s hard to avoid viewing this study in light of the potential (likely) candidacy of Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. As we have previously written, Clinton played down her gender ? and the historic nature of her candidacy ? during the 2008 candidacy, a move that we believe hurt her. She’s not likely to repeat that mistake in 2016 ? if her earlier rhetoric is any indication ? but the Dartmouth study suggests that what she says may matter less to voters than how she looks, all of which reaffirms that life really is just like high school.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..ed-office/

    1. I managed to “avoid” thinking of Hillary in relation to this study until this fellow mentioned it.

      1. Same here.

        Hillary couldn’t surround herself with enough attractive women to become electable.

        1. My meaning was, I didn’t think of HRC one way or the other when reading about this study, but this writer immediately thought of the study “in light of the potential (likely) candidacy of Hillary Clinton”

          I wasn’t saying she was either ugly or hot.

          1. Hillary could bake cookies 24/7, wear a gingham dress, put her head in a grandmotherly bun, join a quilting circle, and play with Barbie dolls, and she *still* wouldn’t have a satisfactory explanation of Benghazi.

          2. Understood.

            My point was, when I try to emulate the Venn diagram that Cizzilla drew in his mind with Hillary at the center; not only is she not in my ‘electable-or-not’ circle, she’s not in the ‘hot-or-not’ circle. She’s in the parts of both circles occupied by other stuff like paperclips, the planet Saturn, and fishing knots.

    2. My working assumption is that any DemOp media story about women, older people, etc. in politics or leadership is battlespace prep for Hillary.

      1. “Ban Bossy!”

        1. Moo! Watch where you say that.

  21. Ooh, check this out:

    “Conservatives may have “a relatively rigid cognitive style and an emphasis on traditional gender roles” that leads them to vote for female politicians with a traditionally feminine appearance, Dr. Eric Hehman, a postdoctoral researcher in Freeman’s lab, said in the statement.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..18207.html

    Well, maybe a “rigid congntive style” explains why there isn’t an American counterpart to Margaret Thatcher,* but I wouldn’t blame conservatives.

    *who became Prime Minister under a Parliamentary system, not a direct election.

    1. If only she’d been more feminine, spoken less stridently, baked some cakes, she might have gone somewhere!

      http://www.1800politics.com/wp…..tcher1.jpg

    2. Conservatives may have “a relatively rigid cognitive style and an emphasis on traditional gender roles” that leads them to vote for female politicians with a traditionally feminine appearance, Dr. Eric Hehman, a postdoctoral researcher in Freeman’s lab, said in the statement.

      Four words “doctor”; post hoc ergo propter hoc.

      Considering the woman’s ‘traditional’ place is in the home not the State House, conservatives ‘electing’ attractive women has nothing to do with traditional gender roles. If anything, it exposes an underlying the belief that progressives hold, only ugly women are/can/should be successful.

      1. Academia – thinking up ways to dismiss conservatism for over a century! We pass the progressive policies on to you!

    3. Conservatives may have “a relatively rigid cognitive style

      Since only one cognitive style can succeed and all others fail, I guess she’s trying to say that only conservatives aren’t madmen or idiots.

  22. Is this supposed to be surprising?

    Nice looking men also do better than fat ugly blokes (Chris Christie notwithstanding). Everyone remembers the famous contrast between Kennedy and Nixon, in their televised debate. So maybe we should do a study to see if Liberals hate manly-looking men.

  23. Maybe there’s some truth to the old trope about feminist being a bunch of ugly women who couldn’t get dates. Meanwhile, attractive women who rejected feminism became republicans.

  24. Or perhaps the study is only showing that those with correct hormone balances tend to be more balanced themselves, while those with glandular problems have other problems too??

    Don’t vote for the bearded lady! She’s a Demoncrat!

  25. Or perhaps the study is only showing that those with correct hormone balances tend to be more balanced themselves, while those with glandular problems have other problems too??

    Don’t vote for the bearded lady! She’s a Demoncrat!

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