December 06, 2011
Better Looking Politicians Get More TV Time

News show managers realize that humans want to look at more attractive people. So news programs show better looking Congressional representatives more often than less attractive ones.

The better the looks of United States Congresspersons, the more television coverage they receive, shows a new study from the University of Haifa recently published in the journal Political Communication. The reason behind this? Television journalists think their viewers prefer to see physically attractive people. “Physical appearance ranked third in the criteria for gaining television coverage, and ranked higher than seniority, position in Congress and legislative activity in this respect,” noted the authors of the study.

One of the parties could gain a competitive advantage if it more systematically ranked potential candidates by their looks. A party that recruited more aggressively by physical appeal would pick up a lot of votes not only of the poorly informed but also of the well informed. People do not realize the extent to which their brain responds to subconsciously detected patterns in stimuli.

Imagine taking a large number of early primary contestants and getting them rated using students in another country. For a pretty low cost funders of candidates could learn where to better direct their money to have higher success rates.

The study, conducted by University of Haifa researchers, Dr. Israel Waismel-Manor of the School of Political Science and Prof. Yariv Tsfati of the Department of Communication, asked 463 Israeli students to rank the physical attractiveness of Members of the 110th United States Congress (2007) based on the official photographs posted on Congress’s website. The authors chose that year for its distance from elections, which could otherwise influence media coverage. Israeli students were chosen for this, so as to eliminate the possibility of biases stemming from political views or previous knowledge of Congresspersons, both of which could influence an objective judgment of physical attractiveness. So as to determine that the Israeli assessment of ‘good looks’ is not culturally different from the American judgment, the researchers compared the Israeli ranking to a ranking given by 30 American students, to find a very high correlation between the two.

People also prefer to be led by lower pitched voices.

HAMILTON -- Voters prefer to choose candidates with lower-pitched voices, according to new findings by researchers at McMaster University.

A team from the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior found that study subjects were more inclined to vote for men with lower-pitched voices, suggesting that perceptions developed long ago may be still be influencing the way we choose leaders.

"We're looking at men's low voice-pitch as a cue to dominance, which is related to leadership," says graduate student Cara Tigue, lead author of the paper, published on-line today in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. "Throughout our evolutionary history, it would have been important for our ancestors to pay attention to cues to good leadership, because group leaders affected a person's ability to survive and reproduce within a group. We're looking at it in a present-day, 21st-century context."

To test voice-related perceptions, the researchers manipulated archival recordings of US presidents, creating lower- and higher-pitched versions of each voice.

They played the altered recordings for test subjects and asked them to rate their perceptions of the speakers' attractiveness, leadership potential, honesty, intelligence and dominance. They also asked subjects which version of the voice they would prefer to vote for, both in peacetime and wartime.

Though the motivations were different, in all cases they preferred candidates with lower-pitched voices.

When offspring genetic engineering becomes possible don't be surprised if some prospective parents decide to give their kids deeper voices.

I also expect voice reengineering by plastic surgeons will some day become technically feasible and popular. Go for that deeper voice to get promotions up management ranks. It will be money well spent.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 December 06 10:29 PM  Brain Innate

DonM said at December 7, 2011 11:44 AM:

Just as when you see a woman with very large, yet perky bosoms, you think "silicone" when you hear a "Basso Profundo" coming from a pipsqueak jerk, you will think "Throat surgery". Who looks at Joe Biden without thinking "hair plugs"?

Women who cover their bosoms to signal non-availability, invest thousands in silicone, facelifts, hair dye in an attempt to project an image more appropriate to the newly nubile are only fooling themselves.

Remember the man who combs hair over his bald spot, then looks in the mirror and thinks "People are so easy to fool."

not anon or anonymous said at December 8, 2011 10:28 AM:

DonM, yes, countersignals can create a sort of "uncanny valley" effect. But incremental improvements will be quite valuable, and sometimes extreme signals are effective.

Rick de Castro said at December 8, 2011 10:43 AM:

How is it that Schumer gets so much air time? Reid? Pelosi? Feinstein? Boxer? Maxine Waters?

PacRim Jim said at December 11, 2011 2:07 PM:

How long before someone runs as an avatar?
Imagine a virtual United States populated by an avatar for each citizen, with the de rigeuer cohort of illegal alien avatars.

ASPIRANT said at December 13, 2011 3:59 PM:

>When offspring genetic engineering becomes possible don't be surprised if some prospective parents decide to give their kids deeper voices.
I'd try to get rid of the preference for voice pitch and any other such erroneous crap that would cloud their perceptions. I'm sure that the intelligence I'd give them would make up for a slightly longer time taken to make decisions.

I'd also give them deeper voices. And huge bull horns so they can gore their enemies.

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