The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘snap judgments’

The Situation of First Impressions

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 25, 2012

From The Heroic Imagination Project:

A practical demonstration of the speed at which impressions are made and how difficult they can be to change. Three women go into a job interview, with the interviewer secretly providing live information about her impressions of the applicants.

Sample of related Situationist Posts:

Posted in Emotions, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Stereotyping Political Ideology

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 29, 2010

Susan Perry has a terrific article in yesterday’s Minneapolis Post, titled “How we use stereotypes to identify people’s political affiliations.”   Here are some excerpts.

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. . . . According to a study published this month in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, people can identify with remarkable accuracy (more than by chance guessing) whether another person is a Republican or a Democrat by simply looking at that person’s headshot.

How do we do it? By relying on stereotypes, the study found. Republicans, apparently, look “powerful” in our minds, and Democrats appear “warm.”

Of course, these kinds of stereotypes can lead to perceptual errors. “Not all Democrats appear warm and not all Republicans appear powerful,” wrote the study’s authors. “However, the linearity of these effects is noteworthy: appearing warmer led to a greater chance that a target would be perceived as a Democrat and appearing more powerful led to a greater chance that a target would be perceived as a Republican.”

Experiment #1
The study, which was conducted by Nalini Ambady, Ph.D., a social psychologist at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., and Tufts doctoral candidate Nicholas Rule, involved three separate experiments.

In the first experiment, 29 undergraduates were asked to categorize the faces of 118 unnamed professional politicians (2004 and 2006 U.S. Senate candidates).The photos (cropped to be of identical size and converted to grayscale) included women candidates, but minority candidates were excluded to avoid race-based stereotypes.

After the data was analyzed, the study found that participants had categorized the photos correctly at a rate that was significantly better than chance guessing. Those results held even when the responses of 10 participants who said they recognized at least one of the candidates were excluded from the calculations.

Experiment #2
To see if the results of the first experiment could be extended to other groups of people, the researchers conducted a second experiment. . . . [involving] the political affiliation of photos take from the senior yearbooks of a private U.S. university. . . .

Again, the participants’ categorization of the political affiliations of the students in the photos was significantly greater than chance guessing.

Experiment #3
Intrigued by these findings, the researchers decided to determine what, exactly, people were using to determine if someone were a Democrat or a Republican. . . .

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Faces perceived to be that of Republican scored higher on the “Power” scale and those perceived to be that of a Democrat scored high on the “Warmth” scale.

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Other research has pointed out that we’re quick to make snap judgments about the people we meet based on their appearance — and often, of course, unfairly. “People are known to form impression of others from their faces instantaneously and automatically,” write Rule and Ambady. “Moreover, these perceptions can have highly consequential outcomes, such as affecting the jobs that individuals are offered, their outcomes in court, and their financial success.”

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To read the entire article, including the conclusion, which summarizes “some truly provocative research about how election results can be predicted by the candidates’ facial traits,” click here.

To read a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Social Tuning and Ideology – Part 1 and Part 2,” The Situation of Ideology – Part I,” “The Situation of Ideology – Part II,” “Ideology is Back!,” A System-Justification Primer,” “Barbara Ehrenreich on the Sources of and Problems with Dispositionism,” ““Yuck!” “EWW!” and Other Conservative Expressions,” Unclean Hands” and “The Situation of Political Disposition,” Ideology is Back!,” “The Situation of Confabulation,”

Posted in Ideology, Implicit Associations, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Voting for a Face

Posted by The Situationist Staff on July 6, 2008

Barack Obama - Image by omgsaywhatt - FlickrAnn Ryman for the Arizona Republic has an interesting piece summarizing the research examining how looks influence votes. Here are a few excerpts.

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A growing body of research supports the notion that a candidate’s attempts to establish himself as a powerful leader can be helped or hurt by his facial features. Appearance is not, of course, the sole factor that sways voters, but experts who have studied the link between faces and people’s perceptions say we place more emphasis on looks than we think.

Facial structure can play a role in how trustworthy, strong and charismatic we perceive someone to be, said Caroline Keating, a psychology professor at Colgate University who studies facial structure and perceptions of power.

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“One reason why it’s so important for us to perceive our leaders as competent, credible and sincere is because that makes us feel secure,” Keating said. “We identify with leaders. If leaders look confident, brave, bold and true, then we feel we can take on the world.”

Keating has conducted research on people’s reactions to former Presidents Reagan and Kennedy. Using digital images, she made subtle, almost undetectable changes designed to enhance or diminish their facial features and tested reactions. . . .

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There is evidence that people can often predict the election winners just by looking at faces.

John McCain Image by Wigwam Jones - FlickrAlexander Todorov, an assistant professor of psychology at Princeton University, gave people photos of unfamiliar political candidates who won and were runners-up in state governor races. He asked people to pick the most competent candidates, and they chose the winners 68 percent of the time.

Whether this reliance on snap judgments is good or bad is hard to tell, Keating said.

“What’s the job of a leader? It’s to move us,” she said. “If you don’t look sincere, then you’re never going to move anybody. You’re not going to instill in them the confidence and the emotional tenor you need to get them to sign onto the programs you think are important. So, when it comes to motivating people, it’s all about the non-verbal.”

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To read the entire article (which includes a analysis of McCain and Obama’s facial features, click here. For other posts on the Situation of politics, click here.

Posted in Choice Myth, Emotions, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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