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Voters Swayed By Candidates Who Share Their Looks 266

Posted by samzenpus
from the govern-by-proxy dept.
iandoh writes "Stanford researchers have found that voters are subconsciously swayed by candidates who share their facial features. In three experiments, researchers at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab worked with cheap, easy-to-use computer software to morph pictures of about 600 test subjects with photos of politicians. And they kept coming up with the same results: For the would-be voters who weren't very familiar with the candidates or in perfect lockstep with their positions or political parties, the facial similarity was enough to clinch their votes."
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Voters Swayed By Candidates Who Share Their Looks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:26AM (#25478373)

      I work for a company, that is run mostly by women, but the thing is that all the women that work there, they ALL Look like clones. Or they get hired because they look like the owners, as to give them the comfort in what "looks familiar" or to the fact the women, mimic the looks ...no, they all just look so similar makes me thinks it is more common than we think.

    • by dimeglio (456244)

      You work for Elite Model Management and all the women look like Adriana Lima, you lucky sob.

    • Not that weird (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aliquis (678370)

      Of course you'll trust someone which looks like they is from your family / closely related more than someone who's not.

      Makes perfect sense and makes me wonder why some people decided that "correlationisnotcausation" was a valid tag for this story. Would be intresting to hear their theory about why this happens if it's not because of the similar looks ...

    • by sorak (246725)

      They don't all happen to be related, do they?

    • Yep. I had a boss... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Trai (998845)

      Yep. I had a boss who had long hair and who had hired me for a customer service position back in the 90s when I had long hair. Every other woman she hired also had long hair. I thought the hair length was incidental until she got a short hair cut and started pressuring all of her employees to cut their hair. I transferred departments to get away from her nuisances.

      Dress codes don't have much of a real impact on performance as long as employees don't take advantage and wear clothing that is not appropriate a

      • !pantyhose (Score:3, Interesting)

        by The Queen (56621)

        Our company had a very strict pantyhose rule when I first started here; one lady in accounting was actually sent home for wearing shoes with no hose - with a PANT SUIT. Not even a skirt. Just showing a bit of ankle. We only recently have been allowed to wear open-toed shoes in summer.

        If you want happy workers, let them dress comfortably. Sheesh.

      • by fprintf (82740) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:03AM (#25481379) Journal

        Mass confusion here! Doing the usual reading of comments under the assumption of a male writer (this is Slashdot, afterall) I wondered what female boss would hire a guy specifically for his long hair... it wasn't until I got to the comment about panty hose that I figured out you were a bank robber and not a computer scientist!

  • by Drishmung (458368) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:27AM (#25478383)
    I shall stand on the 'butt-ugly' platform. I'm a certain winner based on this research.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:27AM (#25478387)

    ...why Cowboy Neal gets all the votes in the slashdot polls.

  • I voted for Kucinich!

    On a more serious note, is this surprising to anyone?
  • Sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by electrosoccertux (874415) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:31AM (#25478425)

    I've heard statistics from some sources as high as 97% of black voters will be voting for Obama, just google for some of it it's out there. Even if they're off and lets say it's only 85%, still.

    If 85% of white people voted for McCain, it would be considered racist.

    Just saying.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Digitus1337 (671442)
      Look at how many black voters voted for Kerry in 2004. Obama's skin color is not the reason for this.
    • by MrZaius (321037)

      >If 85% of white people voted for McCain, it would be considered racist.

      And it would shock the authors of this study, as presumably far less than 85% of the population consists of Raisinettes. Me, I'm writing in Cthulhu, per the orders of a certain T-shirt I saw once.

      /Don't have 8 arms
      //Or 7

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mcvos (645701)

      I've heard statistics from some sources as high as 97% of black voters will be voting for Obama, just google for some of it it's out there. Even if they're off and lets say it's only 85%, still.

      If 85% of white people voted for McCain, it would be considered racist.

      It would only be racist if they vote for him only because he's white. So why is black people voting for Obama different? Exactly because there's never been a black president yet. So far, the presidency has always been reserved for a white elite. People want to believe that skin colour has nothing to do with your ability to become president, and having a president with a different skin colour would be the ultimate proof of that.

      Had I been allowed to vote, this would definitely be a factor for me (although I'

    • I've heard statistics from some sources as high as 97% of black voters will be voting for Obama,

      Blacks voting for Obama are mainly voting their interest, and Obama is an amazing candidate by many measures. If someone like Clarence Thomas were running for president do you think many blacks would be voting for him? Me neither.

      Blacks in the US *have* to think pragmatically. They can't afford (or they act as if they can't afford, which I wish most folks would do) to elect officials who are going to play shenani

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orzetto (545509)

      If 85% of white people voted for McCain, it would be considered racist.

      Guess what, someone in another thread is complaining about the overuse of "correlation is not causation", and here you go with a fine example of correlation having nothing to do with causation. The black vote has always been for the democrats in the last decades, and this time the democrat candidate happens to be black (halfway at least).

      Since 90% of the blacks are voting for the presidential ticket with no women, are you inferring that

  • by dominique_cimafranca (978645) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:43AM (#25478477) Homepage
    Frankly, I kind of doubt it. But you never know...
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      She has no choice. Sure, she's got a decent gig in her various projects, but if Palin's elected, Fey has a LOCK on employment for the next 4, probably 8, and even the possibility of 12-16 years.

      That's nothing to sneeze at.

      On the point of the original article: well duh.
      "People prefer people that look like themselves" - news at 11. I'd thought that was obviously the root cause of everything from racism to the fact that most married people look like each other.

  • by Alsee (515537) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:48AM (#25478503) Homepage

    This research is totally bogus. I just like to vote for the ugly candidate.

    -

    • by Alsee (515537)

      Yeah! And I just like to vote for whoever looks stupider!

      -

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Alsee (515537)

        Pffft! That's nothing. *I* like to vote for whichever candidate looks like he might have some sort of multiple personality disorder. Makes things more interesting that way!

        -

      • by mcvos (645701)

        Yeah! And I just like to vote for whoever looks stupider!

        And I know from personal experience that handsome people are smarter.

  • Politicans (Score:5, Funny)

    by ozbird (127571) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:06AM (#25478585)

    No wonder politicans are two-faced - they're trying to double their votes.

  • Obama (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guyminuslife (1349809) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:07AM (#25478591)

    I've wondered for a while if part of what makes white voters more likely to accept Obama as the first black president is the fact that, despite his dark skin color, he has very European facial features. Andrew Sullivan has recently been posting pictures of Obama's (white) grandfather, to whom the presidential candidate bears a striking resemblance.

    Obviously, it's impossible to give a truly satisfying answer to such a counterfactual, but I can't help but suspect that if Obama had more stereotypically African features---you know what I mean---that he would not be in the position he is in now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SL Baur (19540)

      I can't help but suspect that if Obama had more stereotypically African features---you know what I mean---that he would not be in the position he is in now.

      Actually, I suspect the answer to his popularity lies somewhere in this paper http://www.pennypresslv.com/Obama's_Use_of_Hidden_Hypnosis_techniques_in_His_Speeches.pdf [pennypresslv.com]

      I do not buy all of that, as I am not convinced Obama is his own man, but certainly he gives much different speech in impromptu sessions (all the "uh" hesitations, his own admission that he is not effective in 1-on-1 communications) versus prepared speeches and his own VP candidate has gone on record (twice!) as saying that once he gets into o

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shotgun (30919)

        As someone who finds Obama dangerously inexperienced and a socialist joke for a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, I must say this paper is worthless.

        The giveaway is the opening fifteen pages where the author finds it necessary to defend his claims and to say how dangerous and illegal the claimed "techniques" are. A serious position paper or study will first present a position, then present supporting evidence, and then possibly present a defense against possible attacks. The effect that t

  • ...most slashdotters look kinda like Cheney.

  • Obama Is White (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:19AM (#25478669) Homepage Journal

    Barack Obama looks exactly like his grandfather, Stanley Dunham [edemocrats.org], except Barack's skin is darker and his hair curlier.

    Obama is half "Black" and half "White". He's been called "Black" so many times, it's only fair to call him "White". Especially because he looks just like his White family.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Exactly? No. Somewhat? Of course. He is biologically related. That's like saying that russian women tend to look russian. Of course they will. He is Mulatto, which is not white or black technically. However, double standards mean that people care more about the black side than regard both equally. Sad thing is the amount of racism in certain areas in the south may come out big time if Obama becomes president.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)

        Of course not "exactly". No two people, even identical twins at 10 minutes old, look "exactly" alike.

        The point is that Obama and his grandfather resemble each other so much more closely than they differ, other than Obama's skin color, that they are very clearly more closely related than most any two White people. Yet Obama is designated as "other" by White people.

        Yes, that one characteristic of his appearance has quite a lot of disproportionate power in people's affiliation with him, as the research this st

        • I think of myself as white, even though I have olive skin and black hair. However, Obama seems more "like me" than McCain does. McCain is the whitest. He's whiter than white. Most white people are probably more closely related to Obama than McCain in terms of hereditary diversity.
        • by poetmatt (793785)

          Well no, I would say Obama is just as much like his grandfather as any white person is like any other completely random white person, sans heredity.

          You're really making a comparison out of something I wouldn't really say is apples to apples.

          Some African Americans are Mulatto to some degree. I'd say there's a point where people choose to identify the one way or the other because they need something to identify with. I would say it's far stretch to even say everyone is mulatto. Remember, the US is a melting p

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      He seems to be black enough for most blacks. Gallup has been showing between 89 and 93% of America's blacks supporting Obama for months, compared to 48-55% whites supporting McCain. For some reason, this hasn't been the slightest bit newsworthy in the mainstream media.
      • Isn't the black vote usually heavily democrat anyway? It was far more interesting to see the demographic split in the primaries, when he was running against a nearly identical white woman*. More telling was the way the split happened. At first there was only a little bt of a split, 60/40, but when the campaigns moved into the south, the demographic split ran 80/20 in at least one state (Mississippi I think).

        *As opposed to the nearly identical white man with a different brand name.

    • by sorak (246725)

      Barack Obama looks exactly like his grandfather, Stanley Dunham [edemocrats.org], except Barack's skin is darker and his hair curlier.

      Are you sure that isn't Jason Biggs?

      Obama is half "Black" and half "White". He's been called "Black" so many times, it's only fair to call him "White". Especially because he looks just like his White family.

      I like to apply the redneck daughter test. If he were to date a redneck's daughter, that redneck would call him black, so, therefore, he's black.

  • So this explains McCain's inexplicable popularity amongst Gnomes.
  • Could you pick out of a line-up a visually foreign person you've only just met? For example, I'm of Indonesian descent, 3rd generation Canadian. I'm far better at distinguishing caucasians than they are at distinguishing any asians.

    I can't imagine what middle-of-the-road Americans must inperpret from seeing the two candidates. A black man with white features, or an old geezer.

    My first thought would be "what, they couldn't find any normal people to run for president?"

    Along that same line, I have to ask, "

  • Since I guess she mistook her supporters for "deer in the headlights"...

  • by SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:33AM (#25479251)

    In order for the test to work (correct me if I'm wrong), the only factor that they would have been told is that they were voting for a politician in an experiment. When people have nothing else to make a decision on, they will generally try to pick something, no matter how superficial it may seem.

    But when voting for someone in the real world, more factors come into play and this test doesn't say anything about how much of an influence this trait plays, which is just as important as the experiment itself if you want to find out what it means in real elections.

  • Obama/Biden? McCain/Palin? Nader? H. Ron Paul?

    Fuck 'em.

    Vote for yourself!

    Plant dippy looking campaign signs on your front lawn with your name on it.

    Oh, your name is not on the ballot? My tip: ANYTHING is possible with a Diebold voting machine!

    I plan on becoming the next county dog catcher, myself.

  • So, they don't know a person's POV & policies and prolly don't care. Neither do they have a pre-set opinion. Then, you let those people choose from a few incarnations of the same person. One of them looks like the test subject does. They like that person best. How is that news? How is this not completely obvious?
  • For some reason this reminds me of a Star Trek: Voyager episode - 2x23 - The Thaw.

    "You're different, I don't know anything about you. You're not on the system."
    "I would be pleased to tell you all about myself another time at a more appropriate time. For now suffice it to say that I'm here by a miracle of technology. Now let's get down to the issues, shall we?"
    "How am I supposed to negotiate if I don't know what you're thinking?"
    "I have a very trustworthy face."

  • I'm not black, and I'm not ancient, and if you want to include VPs, I'm not female. None of them look like me, so they all suck!

  • by superflippy (442879) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:06AM (#25481415) Homepage Journal

    I've been told I look like Sarah Palin, but I am not particularly fond of her. Sure as heck wouldn't vote for her. I'm going to be very careful when I buy new glasses not to get ones that enhance the resemblance.

  • by thepacketmaster (574632) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:21AM (#25481611) Homepage Journal
    Will this simply be a matter of the younger voters going for Obama then?

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.

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