Friday, June 10, 2005

Appearance DOES Matter

Which person is more babyfaced?
Perspective in Science.
Take a look at these two snapshots. Which man is more babyfaced? Most viewers would say it's the person on the right. And that's the person who lost a 2004 U.S. congressional election to his more mature-faced and competent-looking opponent. In fact, about 70% of recent U.S. Senate races were accurately predicted based on which candidates looked more competent from a quick glance at their faces. This remarkable effect, reported by Todorov et al. on page 1623 of this issue, likely reflects differences in "babyfacedness". A more babyfaced individual is perceived as less competent than a more mature-faced, but equally attractive, peer of the same age and sex. Although we like to believe that we "don't judge a book by its cover," superficial appearance qualities such as babyfacedness profoundly affect human behavior in the blink of an eye.

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