Interesting article in Sunday’s NY Times called “Would You Vote for This Face” (called “A Facial Theory of Politics” in online editions) which highlights — based on the results of a series of studies — the importance of candidates’ looks in determining their electability.

Some excerpts:

  • “It turns out that a candidate’s appearance — not beauty, but a look of competence — can generate a far greater vote swing than we previously thought.  Furthermore, this effect is not only powerful but also subliminal.  Few of us believe that appearance determines our vote, yet for a significant number of us, it may.”
  • “After all the talk about the economy, health care and other contentious issues, the issue that may swing an election may be which candidate best looks the part.”

As the author notes, few of us are likely to admit that looks determine our sense for others’ competence.  But as is true in these studies, just as it is in our everyday lives, we often rationalize our decisions after we’ve already made a determination that may be based on a subliminal process, an emotional response,  a gut feel, etc.

Since by its nature, this undercurrent can be hidden from rational thought, it can be hard to be aware of it, but I suspect if you pay attention to this, that in the next day or two you’ll come across an instance where you justify a decision with your rational thought process that your emotional or instinctive intelligence had already made.