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Nicholas E. Bowman, Joan Y. Chiao; What drives the political gender gap?: The role of gender on facial judgments of politicians. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):14. doi: 10.1167/7.9.14.
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In U.S. electoral politics, men are more likely to run and be elected to political office (Fox and Lawless, 2004). Moreover, previous research demonstrates that perceived competence from facial appearance alone can predict the outcome and margin of victory in political races, such as the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representative elections (Todorov et al., 2005). However, little is known about the role of gender on facial judgments of elected political officials. Here we examine the role of gender on facial judgments of male and female winners of recent U.S. House of Representative races. Twenty-three college-aged participants judged how competent, dominant, warm and approachable the faces of elected U.S. Representative leaders seemed on a Likert scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much). All participants judged faces of male politicians as significantly more competent relative to female politicians. Moreover, participants judged the faces of female politicians as significantly more dominant and more approachable relative to faces of male politicians. There was no difference in perceived warmth of male and female elected officials' faces. These results suggest that the political gender gap may be driven by differences in perceived competence of male and female political leaders from the face and that female politicians who are elected, succeed potentially due to a highly dominant and approachable facial appearance.
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