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Keywords:

  • Candidate Evaluation;
  • Voting Behavior;
  • Physical Attractiveness;
  • Stereotype;
  • Visual Cues

Voters typically evaluate an attractive candidate more favorably than an (otherwise equivalent) unattractive candidate. However, some voters “correct” for the biasing influence of physical appearance. This reduces, eliminates, or even reverses the physical attractiveness effect. Correction occurs when political experts evaluate a political candidate under nondistracting conditions. Under these “high cognitive capacity” conditions, voters primarily correct for physical unattractiveness. However, correction fails to occur when voters possess low levels of expertise or are distracted. Thus, in most circumstances, attractive candidates are evaluated more favorably than unattractive candidates. Two experiments provide support for this model of appearance-based candidate evaluation.