The 42 reference contexts in paper Niclas Berggren, Henrik Jordahl, Panu Poutvaara (2010) “The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and their Voters Reward it” / RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3310

  1. Start
    3833
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    If not, the parties whose voters are more responsive to appearance might be expected to select and attract better-looking candidates. The general result that physical appearance matters in politics has been established in several previous studies.1
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    Todorov et al. (2005)
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    find that inferences of competence from photographs help predict the outcomes of elections to the U.S. Congress (72 percent of Senate races and 67 percent of House races). Subsequently, Ballew and Todorov (2007), Antonakis and Dalgas (2009), Benjamin and Shapiro (2009), Poutvaara et al. (2009), King and Leigh (2009), Berggren et al. (2010), Rule at al. (2010), Lawson et al. (2010), and Olivo
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  2. Start
    4041
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    The general result that physical appearance matters in politics has been established in several previous studies.1 Todorov et al. (2005) find that inferences of competence from photographs help predict the outcomes of elections to the U.S. Congress (72 percent of Senate races and 67 percent of House races). Subsequently,
    Exact
    Ballew and Todorov (2007),
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    Antonakis and Dalgas (2009), Benjamin and Shapiro (2009), Poutvaara et al. (2009), King and Leigh (2009), Berggren et al. (2010), Rule at al. (2010), Lawson et al. (2010), and Olivola and Todorov (2010) provide further evidence that candidate appearance matters for electoral success in a number of countries.
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  3. Start
    4097
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    The general result that physical appearance matters in politics has been established in several previous studies.1 Todorov et al. (2005) find that inferences of competence from photographs help predict the outcomes of elections to the U.S. Congress (72 percent of Senate races and 67 percent of House races). Subsequently, Ballew and Todorov (2007), Antonakis and Dalgas (2009),
    Exact
    Benjamin and Shapiro (2009), Poutvaara et al. (2009), King and Leigh (2009), Berggren et al. (2010),
    Suffix
    Rule at al. (2010), Lawson et al. (2010), and Olivola and Todorov (2010) provide further evidence that candidate appearance matters for electoral success in a number of countries. However, none of these studies look at differences in beauty or in beauty premia between political candidates from the left and from the right.
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  4. Start
    4246
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    Subsequently, Ballew and Todorov (2007), Antonakis and Dalgas (2009), Benjamin and Shapiro (2009), Poutvaara et al. (2009), King and Leigh (2009), Berggren et al. (2010), Rule at al. (2010), Lawson et al. (2010), and
    Exact
    Olivola and Todorov (2010)
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    provide further evidence that candidate appearance matters for electoral success in a number of countries. However, none of these studies look at differences in beauty or in beauty premia between political candidates from the left and from the right.
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    The candidates were evaluated, through a web survey, by a large number of respondents from other countries on traits such as beauty and competence, and we relate those evaluations to the votes each candidate received in parliamentary and municipal elections. Given that several papers following
    Exact
    Todorov et al. (2005)
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    have found that inferences of competence predict electoral success, we include photograph-based competence evaluations in our investigation, both separately and together with beauty. We focus our analysis on the National Coalition Party on the right and on the Social Democratic Party and the Left Alliance on the left.
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    politics, with one or several parties on each side.2 Finland’s proportional electoral system with personal votes enables us to estimate electoral beauty premia from within-party competition. This allows us to 1 On the importance of physical appearance for how people are perceived and treated outside of politics, see, e.g.,
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    Hamermesh and Biddle (1994), Langlois et al. (2000), Mobius and Rosenblat (2006), and Rule and Ambady (2008).
    Suffix
    2 Budge and Robertson (1987: 394–395) differentiate between left and right in terms of “economic-policy conflicts – government regulation of the economy through direct controls or takeover ... as opposed to free enterprise, individual freedom, incentives and economic orthodoxy.
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    This allows us to 1 On the importance of physical appearance for how people are perceived and treated outside of politics, see, e.g., Hamermesh and Biddle (1994), Langlois et al. (2000), Mobius and Rosenblat (2006), and Rule and Ambady (2008). 2
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    Budge and Robertson (1987
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    : 394–395) differentiate between left and right in terms of “economic-policy conflicts – government regulation of the economy through direct controls or takeover ... as opposed to free enterprise, individual freedom, incentives and economic orthodoxy.
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  8. Start
    6318
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    (2006), and Rule and Ambady (2008). 2 Budge and Robertson (1987: 394–395) differentiate between left and right in terms of “economic-policy conflicts – government regulation of the economy through direct controls or takeover ... as opposed to free enterprise, individual freedom, incentives and economic orthodoxy.” On the usage and relevance of this terminology in modern politics, see
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    Klingemann (1995), Bobbio (1996) and
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    – for the Nordic countries – Grendstad (2003). Although politically relevant, left-right terminology involves simplification (Mair, 2007), and the exact meaning of the terms differ somewhat between political cultures (Zechmeister, 2006). isolate the effect of beauty from other vote motives, like ideology, and to handle other empirical problems related to the selection and quality
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    394–395) differentiate between left and right in terms of “economic-policy conflicts – government regulation of the economy through direct controls or takeover ... as opposed to free enterprise, individual freedom, incentives and economic orthodoxy.” On the usage and relevance of this terminology in modern politics, see Klingemann (1995), Bobbio (1996) and – for the Nordic countries –
    Exact
    Grendstad (2003).
    Suffix
    Although politically relevant, left-right terminology involves simplification (Mair, 2007), and the exact meaning of the terms differ somewhat between political cultures (Zechmeister, 2006). isolate the effect of beauty from other vote motives, like ideology, and to handle other empirical problems related to the selection and quality of candidates.
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  10. Start
    6496
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    of the economy through direct controls or takeover ... as opposed to free enterprise, individual freedom, incentives and economic orthodoxy.” On the usage and relevance of this terminology in modern politics, see Klingemann (1995), Bobbio (1996) and – for the Nordic countries – Grendstad (2003). Although politically relevant, left-right terminology involves simplification
    Exact
    (Mair, 2007), and
    Suffix
    the exact meaning of the terms differ somewhat between political cultures (Zechmeister, 2006). isolate the effect of beauty from other vote motives, like ideology, and to handle other empirical problems related to the selection and quality of candidates.
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  11. Start
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    individual freedom, incentives and economic orthodoxy.” On the usage and relevance of this terminology in modern politics, see Klingemann (1995), Bobbio (1996) and – for the Nordic countries – Grendstad (2003). Although politically relevant, left-right terminology involves simplification (Mair, 2007), and the exact meaning of the terms differ somewhat between political cultures
    Exact
    (Zechmeister, 2006).
    Suffix
    isolate the effect of beauty from other vote motives, like ideology, and to handle other empirical problems related to the selection and quality of candidates. In the 2003 Finnish National Election Study, most voters reported having been influenced by the political opinions and the party of the candidates when making their choice.
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    share of respondents who replied that a political candidate was “Above average” or “Very handsome or beautiful” rather than relying on the 1–5 scale as our measure of beauty (and of competence). 4 By incumbent is meant a political candidate who served in the office in question, or as members of the national or the European parliaments, at the time of the election. 5 In any case,
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    Hamermesh et al. (2002)
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    find that clothes and makeup only affect perceptions of a person’s beauty marginally. 2.3. Respondents We had 2,513 respondents. This number greatly exceeds the number of respondents in comparable studies on the role of facial appearance in politics.
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    of the national or the European parliaments, at the time of the election. 5 In any case, Hamermesh et al. (2002) find that clothes and makeup only affect perceptions of a person’s beauty marginally. 2.3. Respondents We had 2,513 respondents. This number greatly exceeds the number of respondents in comparable studies on the role of facial appearance in politics. In the pioneering study by
    Exact
    Todorov et al. (2005),
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    only 34 out of 843 respondents evaluated beauty. King and Leigh (2009) used 5 respondents. The majority of the respondents were from Sweden or the United States, but we also had significant participation from France, Germany and Denmark.
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    This number greatly exceeds the number of respondents in comparable studies on the role of facial appearance in politics. In the pioneering study by Todorov et al. (2005), only 34 out of 843 respondents evaluated beauty.
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    King and Leigh (2009)
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    used 5 respondents. The majority of the respondents were from Sweden or the United States, but we also had significant participation from France, Germany and Denmark. As reported in Berggren et al. (2010), we find that respondents in different Western countries make similar evaluations.
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    King and Leigh (2009) used 5 respondents. The majority of the respondents were from Sweden or the United States, but we also had significant participation from France, Germany and Denmark. As reported in
    Exact
    Berggren et al. (2010),
    Suffix
    we find that respondents in different Western countries make similar evaluations. Lawson et al. (in press) generalize this finding to more dissimilar countries by demonstrating that evaluations by subjects living in the United States and India predict actual election outcomes in Mexico and Brazil quite accurately.
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    12957
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    Lawson et al. (in press) generalize this finding to more dissimilar countries by demonstrating that evaluations by subjects living in the United States and India predict actual election outcomes in Mexico and Brazil quite accurately. Likewise,
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    Rule et al. (2010)
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    report that American and Japanese participants made similar inferences of traits from the faces of both U.S. and Japanese political candidates, and although their evaluations predicted election outcomes between cultures, the participants themselves were only able to accurately predict election outcomes of candidates within their own culture. 2.4.
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    In small districts with less than 14 seats, a party can present 14 candidates. In the 2003 parliamentary election, turnout was 70%. Female candidates received 43% of all votes and won 75 of the 200 seats in parliament
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    (Nurmi and Nurmi, 2004).
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    6 In the 2004 municipal elections, turnout was 59%. 6 Raunio (2005) presents more facts about the Finnish political system. 2.5. Voter information about municipal and parliamentary candidates Electoral competition works quite differently at the municipal and at the national level.
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    Female candidates received 43% of all votes and won 75 of the 200 seats in parliament (Nurmi and Nurmi, 2004).6 In the 2004 municipal elections, turnout was 59%. 6
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    Raunio (2005)
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    presents more facts about the Finnish political system. 2.5. Voter information about municipal and parliamentary candidates Electoral competition works quite differently at the municipal and at the national level.
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    15533
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    To win a seat in parliament, a candidate normally has to first win a seat in the municipal council.7 Politics is more competitive at the national level. Municipal elections can be characterized as low-information elections – defined by
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    Buckley et al. (2007,
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    176) as “elections which do not involve significant constitutional office and do not attract large scale media coverage” – as only a few candidates (especially among non-incumbents) are “career politicians” who are politicians by occupation or have a history of active campaigning and public visibility.
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    23916
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    While the competence evaluations are, to some extent, related to what the candidates wear, the relationship does not differ between respondents to the left and to the right. 3.2. Electoral success We now turn to regression analysis to investigate the relationship between the trait evaluations and electoral success. We focus on non-incumbent candidates, as
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    Berggren et al. (2010)
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    showed that appearance does not matter as much for incumbents.10 Appearance and other pieces of information may be more important for less well-known candidates, and an incumbency dummy may not fully capture such differences.
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    11 The pooling of candidates from the Social Democratic Party and the Left Alliance is supported by statistical tests; there is no specification in which we can reject (at the five percent significance level) that the beauty coefficients are equal for candidates from these two parties. 12 No definitive gender differences with regard to beauty premia could be established by
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    Berggren et al. (2010);
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    however, other studies indicate that gender sometimes does matter for reactions to beauty. For example, Dreber et al. (2010) find that male chess results that allow us to compare the beauty and competence coefficients of right and left candidates.
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    26542
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    no specification in which we can reject (at the five percent significance level) that the beauty coefficients are equal for candidates from these two parties. 12 No definitive gender differences with regard to beauty premia could be established by Berggren et al. (2010); however, other studies indicate that gender sometimes does matter for reactions to beauty. For example,
    Exact
    Dreber et al. (2010)
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    find that male chess results that allow us to compare the beauty and competence coefficients of right and left candidates. Since our identification comes from the interaction of the two trait variables Beauty and Competence with the dummy variable Right, we include the interaction of all unreported dummy variables with Right in most specifications, but we do not report es
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    34528
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    and electoral success is estimated with less precision and the negative coefficients for right candidates imply a weaker relationship over the full sample of left and right candidates. The estimates also suggest that female left candidates do better than male left candidates. For right candidates there is, however, no visible gender difference. In accordance with
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    McDermott (1997),
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    our interpretation is that voters use gender as a cue in low-information elections. Since women are typically seen as kinder and more compassionate than men, they are stereotyped as caring more about social welfare issues, which could make them preferable to men, on a left party list with relatively unknown candidates.
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    Thus, candidate appearance and gender follow the same pattern of having noticeably larger differences between left and right candidates in the municipal elections. The reason, in our interpretation, is that voters have access to much more information about the candidates in parliamentary elections.
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    McDermott (1997)
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    finds that candidate gender is used as a heuristic in low-information elections, especially by voters with minimal knowledge about the candidates. 5. Interpretation We have established that right candidates look better than left candidates and that there is larger beauty premium for right candidates in municipal, but not in parliamentary, elections.
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    One potential explanation is that better-looking candidates sort into the party where beauty is more productive electorally. While our results are consistent with this explanation, our data are not suited for testing it.
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    Hamermesh and Biddle (1994)
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    report weak evidence that beautiful people sort into occupations where their looks are productive. This form of selection could be at hand even though jobs are not as easily substitutable on the political labor market and even if people choose parties purely in accordance with their ideological conviction.
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    A second possible explanation is a general relationship between looks and political opinions. A simple economic explanation could be that beautiful people earn more money on the labor market
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    (Hamermesh and Biddle 1994) and
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    are therefore – for selfish reasons – more inclined to oppose redistribution and support parties to the right. For a more general psychological explanation, it could be that good-looking people are more likely to perceive the world as a just place (since they are treated better than others) – and are therefore inclined to embrace conservative opinions.
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    We are only aware of one dataset where beliefs about the importance of looks for success in life are related to political dispositions. The dataset in question contains information about the political opinions of Swedish academics and is presented in
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    Berggren et al. (2009).
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    It turns out that academics who lean left politically believe that good looks are just as important for success in life as those who lean right do, regardless of whether the political classification is based on party preferences or on left-right selfidentification.
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    Hence, this general kind of belief does not seem able to explain our results. Religion could provide another reason for beauty being a more relevant cue for right voters. Since attractive people are perceived as more religious
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    (Crandall et al., 2007; Naumann et al., 2009),
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    conservative voters who care about religiosity may be more inclined to vote for good-looking candidates. We are able to investigate this explanation by using voting data from a hypothetical election.
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    (The response alternatives also included ”Prefer not to answer”.) particular, it could be that beauty is perceived as a signal of altruism (in a wide sense) and that voters consider it especially important with altruistic traits in right politicians.
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    Andreoni and Petrie (2008)
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    find, in an experimental study, that participants expect beautiful participants to be more cooperative in a publicgoods game. Similarly, Wilson and Eckel (2006) find that beautiful players are trusted to a higher degree in a trust game.16 Hence, there seems to be a basis for thinking that voters associate prosocial tendencies with attractiveness.
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    Prefer not to answer”.) particular, it could be that beauty is perceived as a signal of altruism (in a wide sense) and that voters consider it especially important with altruistic traits in right politicians. Andreoni and Petrie (2008) find, in an experimental study, that participants expect beautiful participants to be more cooperative in a publicgoods game. Similarly,
    Exact
    Wilson and Eckel (2006)
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    find that beautiful players are trusted to a higher degree in a trust game.16 Hence, there seems to be a basis for thinking that voters associate prosocial tendencies with attractiveness. If voters furthermore think that right candidates are more selfish, a suspicion supported by the findings in Carlsson and Johansson-Stenman (2010), they may value beauty more in r
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    Similarly, Wilson and Eckel (2006) find that beautiful players are trusted to a higher degree in a trust game.16 Hence, there seems to be a basis for thinking that voters associate prosocial tendencies with attractiveness. If voters furthermore think that right candidates are more selfish, a suspicion supported by the findings in
    Exact
    Carlsson and Johansson-Stenman (2010),
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    they may value beauty more in right candidates.17 The competence premium for left candidates could have a related explanation. Given that left candidates are seen as more altruistic, left voters may be looking for cues of strength in another dimension, e.g. competence, where their candidates are stereotyped as being weaker.
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    The explanation that beauty serves as a signal of altruism and that this signal is more important for right candidates is consistent with the finding that the beauty premium of right candidates exceeds the premium of left candidates only in municipal elections. In accordance with
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    McDermott (1997),
    Suffix
    we find that candidate appearance follows the same pattern as gender of having noticeably larger differences between left and right candidates in the low-information, municipal elections.
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    Given that voters are more informed based on this experience, the expectations that beautiful politicians are more altruistic should no longer be that effective in parliamentary elections, pushing the beauty premia of left and right candidates towards equalization.18 16 Cf.
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    Mulford et al. (1998),
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    who find that beautiful participants are expected to cooperate more in a prisoners’ dilemma, and Solnick and Schweitzer (1999), who find that beautiful people are offered more in an ultimatum game and that more is expected from them. 17 Interestingly, it turns out that participants are mistaken about beautiful participants being more cooperative and trustworthy –
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    that beautiful politicians are more altruistic should no longer be that effective in parliamentary elections, pushing the beauty premia of left and right candidates towards equalization.18 16 Cf. Mulford et al. (1998), who find that beautiful participants are expected to cooperate more in a prisoners’ dilemma, and
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    Solnick and Schweitzer (1999),
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    who find that beautiful people are offered more in an ultimatum game and that more is expected from them. 17 Interestingly, it turns out that participants are mistaken about beautiful participants being more cooperative and trustworthy – but this is nevertheless their ex ante expectation. 18 The bigger role of television in parliamentary elections could be a complem
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    54556
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    It could be the case that television mediates the influence of appearance in parliamentary campaigns and that voters on the left and on the right are equally influenced by appearance as seen on television.
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    Lenz and Lawson (2010)
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    find that television exacerbates the effect of appearance among the less informed. Depending on the information left and right voters have, this could imply that in the parliamentary election, left candidates “catch up” to the beauty premia of right candidates due to the importance of television in this election.
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    Finally, we cannot rule out the possibility that voters of candidates on the right differ on a neurocognitive level from voters of candidates on the left. There are several studies that point to neurocognitive foundations of political orientations and that connect them to basic psychological dispositions.19
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    Jost et al. (2003)
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    perform a meta-analysis and find that psychological variables, such as death anxiety, system instability, intolerance of ambiguity, lack of openness to experiencing new things, need for order and fear of threat, predict a conservative political orientation.
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    ) perform a meta-analysis and find that psychological variables, such as death anxiety, system instability, intolerance of ambiguity, lack of openness to experiencing new things, need for order and fear of threat, predict a conservative political orientation. More recent studies showing relationships between personality or physiology and political orientation include
    Exact
    Block and Block (2006), Westen et al. (2006), Amodio et al. (2007), Oxley et al. (2008), Vigil (2008), Chiao et al. (2009), Schreiber et al. (2009) and Zamboni et al. (2009).
    Suffix
    20 While this literature does not clarify any mechanism for a link from neurocognitive or psychological differences between left and right sympathizers to different weights awarded to different aspects of physical appearance, such as beauty, it does suggest the possibility of such a mechanism. 6.
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    Thus our findings could also suggest that right politicians might be able to capture bigger rents when in office. 19 The general approach of this research field is outlined in Fowler and Shreiber (2008). 20
    Exact
    Alford et al. (2005)
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    show that the underlying basis of political attitudes and ideology may be genetic; cf. Fowler et al. (2008), Hatemi et al. (2009) and Settle et al. (2009). The two consequences just described indicate that the net effect of differences in beauty premia is ambiguous.
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    58149
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    Thus our findings could also suggest that right politicians might be able to capture bigger rents when in office. 19 The general approach of this research field is outlined in Fowler and Shreiber (2008). 20 Alford et al. (2005) show that the underlying basis of political attitudes and ideology may be genetic; cf.
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    Fowler et al. (2008), Hatemi et al. (2009) and Settle et al. (2009).
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    The two consequences just described indicate that the net effect of differences in beauty premia is ambiguous. On the one hand, beauty favors right candidates, in terms of getting elected, but on the other hand, their political platforms will be geared more to the left voters who care less about the looks of politicians.
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    On the one hand, beauty favors right candidates, in terms of getting elected, but on the other hand, their political platforms will be geared more to the left voters who care less about the looks of politicians. Finally, our findings can be related to the different use of emotional tactics by political parties. For example,
    Exact
    Westen (2007)
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    suggests that whereas Republican strategists have understood that emotions decide election outcomes, Democrat strategists have clung to a dispassionate view of the mind, making them focus on rational argumentation, to their detriment.
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    % 5% governmental organisation Right candidates belong to the National Coalition Party. Left candidates belong to the Social Democratic Party or to the Left Alliance. The numbers presented in the table and in the paper refer to voters for these three parties. Source:
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    Karvonen and Paloheimo (2003).
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    Table A2. Occupational data for municipal and parliamentary candidates, percent Occupation Municipal Election Parliamentary election Political leader 2.4 12.9 Party worker 2.3 2.2 Management 6.3 5.5 Researcher
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    Student 8.8 5.4 Not employed 2.8 1.5 Not listed 12.2 8.5 The occupation data is reported on electoral lists and have been classified by us according to the classification of
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    Statistics Finland (2001),
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    though we have merged certain occupational categories with a small number of candidates and listed party workers as a group of their own. Table A3. Average trait evaluations according to respondent ideology (standard deviations in parentheses) Candidates Respondents Beauty Competence
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