In the second paper, Leslie Zebrowitz, of Brandeis University in Massachusetts, said that the results appeared to reflect the relative “baby-facedness” of the candidates.
Previous research has shown that people of any age who appear baby-faced, with a round face, large eyes, a small nose, a high forehead and a small chin, tend to be rated as less competent — though often as more trustworthy as well. “Although the study doesn’t tell us exactly what competence is — there are many kinds, including physical strength, social dominance and intellectual shrewdness.
Baby-faced people are perceived to be lacking in all these qualities,” Dr Zebrowitz said.
(…) The babyfaced men might actually be the better choices in spite of the electorate’s aversion to babyfaces in leaders.
In fact, studies by Zebrowitz and others have shown that babyfaced men are actually more intelligent, better educated, more assertive and apt to win more military medals than their mature-looking counterparts.
Research in the area of facial impressions has implications for political marketing, social decision-making and even the democratic process, Zebrowitz believes. “The data we have suggest that we’re not necessarily electing better leaders – people who are actually more competent, though we are electing people who look the part.”