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February 2, 2010
Faces Tell All, About Politics Anyway

Got a hunch about a client's or prospect's political affiliation from his or her facial expressions? Go with it, suggests a study published in PLoS One and noted by Scientific American

Candidates from the 2004 and 2006  U.S. Senate elections were accurately identified as either Democrats or Republicans from black-and-white photos of their faces. Not only that, but subjects in the studies were "even able to correctly identify college students as belong to Democratic or Republican clubs based on their yearbook photos," Scientific American notes. 

"Subjects consistently associated Democrats with warmth (likeable and trustworthy) and Republicans with power (dominant and mature)," the magazine adds. "These findings were independent of the gender of the person in the photo."

The data, according to PLoS One researchers, "suggests that perceivers' beliefs about who is a Democrat and Republican may be based on perceptions of traits stereotypically associated with the two political parties and that, indeed, the guidance of these stereotypes may lead to categorizations of others' political affiliations at rates significantly more accurate than chance guessing."

What else, besides age and general demeanor, are our faces mirroring? Have a study to support your impressions, though, before you take them too seriously. 


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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