Facial appearance affects voting decisions

Anthony C. Little, Robert P. Burriss, Benedict C. Jones, S. Craig Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

297 Citations (SciVal)


Human groups are unusual among primates in that our leaders are often democratically selected. Faces affect hiring decisions and could influence voting behavior. Here, we show that facial appearance has important effects on choice of leader. We show that differences in facial shape alone between candidates can predict who wins or loses in an election (Study 1) and that changing context from war time to peace time can affect which face receives the most votes (Study 2). Our studies highlight the role of face shape in voting behavior and the role of personal attributions in face perception. We also show that there may be no general characteristics of faces that can win votes, demonstrating that face traits and information about the environment interact in choice of leader.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-27
Number of pages10
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


  • Dominance
  • Elections
  • Leadership
  • Masculinity/femininity
  • Social cognition
  • Vote
  • War time/peace time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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