Politicians’ Facial Width-to-Height Ratio and their Electoral Success

Irena Pavela Banai, Benjamin Banai, Mladen Mavar

Abstract


Previous studies have shown that during the election process voters rely on different physical characteristics of political candidates. For example, politicians who are perceived as more competent have greater electoral success. In addition, candidates who look more dominant and masculine are preferred among conservative voters. Since facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) is assumed to be a predictor of perceived masculinity and dominance, this study aimed to investigate the contribution of fWHR in predicting the outcome of the real political elections. We used a digital database containing photographs of political candidates for the United States Senate (United States Congress and United States House of Representatives) and gubernatorial elections, representing Republican and Democratic Party. fWHR was calculated for the 259 male and 52 female candidates. Across several linear and binary regressions, with the control of the candidate’s sex, party affiliation, election type and candidacy type (incumbency or first candidacy), fWHR predicted neither the election outcome nor the vote share. Several methodological aspects have been discussed to explain these unexpected findings and to give guidance for future research.

Keywords


facial width-to-height ratio; politicians; elections; vote share

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