News Stories

Pretty People Get Ahead

in politics - It's so unfair: Attractive people are less likely to get convicted (and short people commit more crimes), and it turns out that attractive politicians are more likely to get elected. With such widespread TV coverage of candidates, this shouldn't surprise us, but we do need to be careful.

A new study shows that the better a politician's looks, the higher the frequency of television news coverage (which means he or she is more likely to be elected). The researchers say, "Earlier studies have shown that people generally tend to prefer the company of people who are physically attractive and even value them as more worthy people. Our study reveals that journalists probably behave just like the rest."

This study was done in Israel, where the team surveyed the coverage of all members of the 16th Israeli Knesset on Israeli TV. They also had the appearance of each member of Knesset (based on their official website photos) rated by Dutch students who were not familiar with the personalities, so as to avoid political bias.

After controlling for these other factors, it was found that the more attractive politicians are covered in the television news more than the less attractive politicians, physical appearance having more influence on the amount of coverage for women than men. Even though female politicians got the highest rankings for their looks, however, the overall television news reporting on them was significantly less than that of men. Young members of Knesset got higher marks for appearance, but their media coverage was lower.

A team spokesperson says, "Our study demonstrates how being attentive to outward appearance must be included in [political] skills, seeing as it can increase the politician's exposure through the media." Is this why McCain picked Palin as a running mate? Note to American politicians: Before you campaign, get that face lift or dye job!

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Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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