Thursday, March 15, 2007

Article: Taking our leaders at face value

The Star reports: "A new study suggests that how we respond to a candidate's face could determine who we vote for". The research was undertaken by the psychologist Anthony C. Little, and published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Researchers started with pictures of political candidates such as John Kerry and George W. Bush, and used software to blend each picture with an image of an 'average face'. The resulting image wasn't recognisable as the candidate, but "nevertheless bore a sort of family resemblance to the originals".

"Then the researchers asked people to look at the faces and say who they would vote for.

In all eight races, the votes based on composite faces gave the same results as the actual elections."

The article also says

"The problem is, despite our specialized cognitive machinery for dealing with faces, it turns out that faces aren't a very good guide for judging other people.

Studies show that people think they can read all sorts of things about people based on their faces, including intelligence, basic character and personality traits. Unfortunately, the same studies show that we're not as accurate as we think we are.

Like everyone else, I know that I shouldn't judge a book by its cover. And like everyone else, I do it all the time – summing someone up in the street, or at a party, or on the subway, based largely on what I think I see in his face. I'm usually pretty confident I'm right, but I'm also probably wrong."

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