Two UCLA researchers of the U.S. House of Representatives have said that political affiliations of female politicians could be judged by their facial features.
"Female politicians with stereotypically feminine facial features are more likely to be Republican than Democrat, and the correlation increases the more conservative the lawmaker's voting record," said lead author Colleen M. Carpinella, a UCLA graduate student in psychology.
The researchers also found the opposite to be true: Female politicians with less stereotypically feminine facial features were more likely to be Democrats.
"At least when it comes to female politicians, assessing how much a face reflects gender norms may be one way of guessing political affiliations," said Kerri Johnson, the study's senior author and an assistant professor of communication studies and psychology at UCLA.
Carpinella and Johnson started the project by feeding portraits of 434 members of the 111th House of Representatives into a computer modeling program used by researchers in their field.
The faces of Republican women rated, on average, twice as sex-typical - or feminine - as those of Democratic women. And among conservative lawmakers of both genders, women were 13 points more feminine on average than men were masculine. Among more liberal politicians, women were five points more feminine than men were masculine.
"The Democratic Party is associated with social liberal policies that aim to diminish gender disparities, whereas the Republican Party is associated with socially conservative policy issues that tend to bolster traditional sex roles," Johnson said.
"These policy platforms are manifest in each party's image - apparently also in the physical characteristics exhibited by politicians," she added.
"A candidate's physical appearance is an important part of politics, especially political campaigns. A considerable portion of the electorate may not be well-informed, and they may be making decisions based on subtle cues that need to be revealed and understood," Johnson further said.