How Candidates Attract Voters

Larry Price
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Wednesday - September 13, 2006
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It’s almost time for the candidates for elected office to be thinned out, separating the wheat from the chaff. In politics, it’s called the primary.

It is somewhat sad to watch and listen to how the would-be politicians explain their failure at the hands of the voters.

They are not really failures and should be applauded for stepping forward with a desire to be a public servants. Most of them don’t seem to appreciate how some voters decide on whom they should vote for when they don’t know the candidates or what they stand for. In many cases, voters don’t know one candidate from another and vote blindly for anyone.

Those whose names begin with the first letters of the alphabet are fortunate because their names appear first on the ballot. It’s like in a game of chess, an ever so slight advantage goes to the one playing with the white pieces because they move first.

One of the real disturbing facts of life is that physically attractive people are more effective in getting what they want than less physically attractive people, independent of their actual skills. Many remarks have been made about how much more vigorous challenger U.S. Rep. Ed Case looked when compared with Sen. Dan Akaka in a recent forum on television. The same thing happened many years ago with a younger, more sophisticated, but unknown member of the Kennedy clan who “looked” better in a televised debate than a tired, older, heavily perspiring vice-president named Nixon.

Strong and convincing evidence reveals that work produced by allegedly attractive people is more highly valued than that produced by less-attractive people. A good example demonstrated in a highly valued investigation, men evaluated an essay with a photo of the supposed author attached with either an attractive or an unattractive woman (Feingold, 1992). The essays were identical in all instances, the men’s judgements of the essay was based on how attractive the woman was in the picture.

For some unknown reason, most people think that attractive people are more talented, kind, honest and intelligent. But you should be advised that attractiveness is usually achieved through dress and grooming in almost all of the studies done on the topic.

Furthermore, attractive people are evaluated more positively and are treated better than unattractive people, and more is demanded of them. They actually have a name for this phenomena in the business world. This attribution of positive qualities to attractive people is part of the “halo effect” found in educational settings - a group of people who can do no wrong in the eyes of the public.

The message, simply put, is this. Be aware of how your judgment (and others’ ) is affected by physical appearance. Sometimes older, less attractive candidates make better public servants. I hope this information will help you make wiser decisions at the polls. After all, there is nothing wrong with a political landscape that features a few ugly elected officials here and there. It would prove that the voting public is not easily impressed by superficial attractiveness.

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