Not Just a Pretty Face, But It Helps on Election Day

Female politicians’ success can be predicted by their facial features, especially in conservative states where women with more feminine faces tend to do better at the ballot box, a Dartmouth-led study finds.

The results suggest women’s electoral success requires a delicate balance between voters’ perception of traditional femininity and political competence. The study appeared in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science and included researchers from UCLA and the University of Delaware.

The researchers used software called MouseTracker that was developed by the study’s senior author Jon Freeman, an assistant professor and director of the Social Cognitive and Neural Sciences Lab at Dartmouth. MouseTracker measures computer mouse movements during psychological experiments, revealing how participants’ real-time hand movements may be partially pulled toward various alternatives and how their psychological response evolves over time.

More than 1,000 scientists around the world are using the software for many purposes, such as detecting cognitive impairments and subtle racial biases, assessing marketing decisions and financial behavior and predicting health outcomes and social inequities.

Link to full article appears in Dartmouth Now and was published May 22, 2014 by Office of Public Affairs.