But a new study from Jonathan Freeman of Dartmouth College and his colleagues, just published Thursday in Social Psychological and Personality Science, offers some clues… Looks count in politics. And for conservatives, the paper’s authors found, how feminine a female candidate appears correlates to how likely she is to win an election. Interestingly, this correlation doesn’t hold for liberals. …
The second part of the study plotted a participant’s facial preferences against geographical location and actual electoral outcomes. In more conservative states, the researchers found, female candidates with very feminine faces either won by greater margins or lost by smaller ones. A statistically significant correlation between initial perception of gender and results could therefore be shown. This was true no matter how attractive or competent a politician was separately thought of.
So conservative voters (or voters living in a more conservative culture), it seems, may collectively be influenced by a subtle bias that is less pronounced or absent in liberal ones. Why this might be is unknown, but there are a number of plausible explanations. Much work has been done on the psychology of political identification indicating that people who are conservatives tend to resist incorporating new information into their worldview, and be more averse to uncertainty. So it is possible that even a slight, temporary uncertainty about how to perceive someone could color a person’s likelihood of voting for a candidate. For people who view gender along rigid guidelines, this matters.
Sarah Palin, with her beauty queen looks, arguably stirred an innate conservative trust.