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A Bird of a Different Feather? An Experimental Investigation of Physical Attractiveness and the Electability of Female Candidates

Lee Sigelman, Carol K. Sigelman and Christopher Fowler
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Mar., 1987), pp. 32-43
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786888
Page Count: 12
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A Bird of a Different Feather? An Experimental Investigation of Physical Attractiveness and the Electability of Female Candidates
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Abstract

An experimental study assessed whether a female candidate's chance of being elected would be affected by her physical attractiveness. Subjects read a biographical description of a candidate and were shown one of three differentially attractive photographs of her; all these materials, including the photos, depicted an actual candidate for Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court who had undergone a dramatic change in personal appearance. The candidate was also described as having highly feminine or masculine sex-role traits or androgynous traits, with subjects in a control condition receiving no such trait descriptions. Analysis revealed that even though the candidate's physical attractiveness had no direct impact on her appeal to voters, it did exercise powerful indirect effects mediated by her perceived femininity, dynamism, niceness and age.

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