Working Paper No. 803

Faces of Politicians: Babyfacedness Predicts Inferred Competence but Not Electoral Success

Published: June 26, 2009Pages: 16Keywords: Babyfacedness; Competence; Beauty; Trustworthiness; ElectionsJEL-codes: D72; J45; J70

Faces of Politicians: Babyfacedness Predicts Inferred Competence but Not Electoral Success Panu Poutvaara, Henrik Jordahl and Niclas Berggren


Recent research has documented that competent-looking political candidates do better in U.S. elections and that babyfaced individuals are generally perceived to be less competent than maturefaced individuals. Taken together, this suggests that babyfaced political candidates are perceived as less competent and therefore fare worse in elections. We test this hypothesis, making use of photograph-based judgments by 2,772 respondents of the facial appearance of 1,785 Finnish political candidates. Our results confirm that babyfacedness is negatively related to inferred competence in politics. Despite this, babyfacedness is either unrelated or positively related to electoral success, depending on the sample of candidates.

Niclas Berggren

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Ph: +46 8 665 4520
niclas.berggren@ifn.se

Henrik Jordahl

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Ph: +46 8 665 4533
Mob: +46 70 938 3858
henrik.jordahl@ifn.se

Sick of Inequality?

An Introduction to the Relationship between Inequality and Health

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In this book Andreas Bergh, Therese Nilsson, IFN and Lund University, and Daniel Waldenström, IFN and Paris School of Economics, France, review the latest research on the relationship between inequality and health. What does inequality mean for our health? Does increasing income inequality affect outcomes such as obesity, life expectancy and subjective well-being?

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