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Sample size: 1132
Field period: 1/14/2006-3/2/2006
Social science research demonstrates that people are drawn to others perceived as similar. We extend this finding to the political domain by comparing the relative effects of candidate familiarity as well as partisan, issue, gender, and facial similarity on voters? evaluations of candidates. A representative sample of voters across the country viewed images of prospective 2008 presidential candidates. Even though the effects of party and policy similarity dominated, facial similarity proved a significant cue for unfamiliar candidates. Thus, the evidence suggests that even in high-profile elections, voters respond to facial similarity, but most strongly with unfamiliar candidates.
Facial Similarity causes more advantage for unfamiliar candidates than for familiar candidates.
Facial Similarity (high low)
Candidate Familiarity (high low)
Candidate/Voter policy position match (high low)
Bailenson, J.N., S. Iyengar, N. Yee, & N. Collins. 2008. Facial similarity between voters and candidates causes influence. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72:935-961.