Babies at the Ballot Box

Voters may say that baby-faced pollies look less competent, but they still seem to vote for them. From a new Finnish study:

Faces of Politicians: Babyfacedness Predicts Inferred Competence but Not Electoral Success
Panu Poutvaara, Henrik Jordahl and Niclas Berggren
forthcoming, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
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.

Speaking of babies, it turns out that kids themselves actually aren’t bad at picking election winners.

Predicting Elections: Child’s Play!
John Antonakis and Olaf Dalgas
In two experiments, children and adults rated pairs of faces from election races. Naïve adults judged a pair on competence; after playing a game, children chose who they would prefer to be captain of their boat. Children’s (as well as adults’) preferences accurately predicted actual election outcomes.

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