Ballot photographs as cues in low-information elections
Banducci, Susan A.
Karp, Jeffrey A.
In low-information elections, voters are often faced with the task of choosing from a list of unknown candidates. By examining a set of low-information elections where candidate photographs were displayed on the ballot, we test how first impressions of candidates can influence election outcomes. We find that attractive candidates are more likely to be attributed the qualities associated with successful politicians and these trait inferences, based on facial appearances, influence the outcomes of elections. We also find that these trait inferences are based on physical characteristics of the candidates, such as age, race and ethnicity, evident from a photograph. Therefore, first impressions can be important determinants of election outcomes, especially in low-information elections.
© 2008 International Society of Political Psychology. Permission to post published version granted by editorial board.