This post, where I speculated, based on nothing more than my personal, clear-eyed observations, that conservatives and liberals have a “look” which I, and most people, can identify with a quick glance, spurred plenty of discussion, most of it taking me to the shed for lack of scientific rigor. Liberals seemed greatly displeased that I insinuated the male of their kind seems always on the verge of bursting into tears. (Note I also said that liberals look smarter than conservatives. But the implication of their weakness hit home a little harder than the flattery of their intelligence.)
As if on cue, here’s a study that basically proves my contention, jot and tittle.
Here we found that individuals’ political affiliations could be accurately discerned from their faces. In Study 1, perceivers were able to accurately distinguish whether U.S. Senate candidates were either Democrats or Republicans based on photos of their faces. Study 2 showed that these effects extended to Democrat and Republican college students, based on their senior yearbook photos. Study 3 then showed that these judgments were related to differences in perceived traits among the Democrat and Republican faces. Republicans were perceived as more powerful than Democrats. Moreover, as individual targets were perceived to be more powerful, they were more likely to be perceived as Republicans by others. Similarly, as individual targets were perceived to be warmer, they were more likely to be perceived as Democrats.
Game. Set. Snatch.
Some of you may ask, “What is it like, oh Lord and Savior of Powerful Malehood, to be burdened so heavily with objective rightness?”
I tell you now, it is a burden I would not place on my worst enemy, for the sweet thrust of psychologically impaling my haters is one I want to savor all to myself. Thou shalt not interrupt the Master when He is mid-Holy Skullfuck.
The coda to the study higlights an often overlooked (understandably, if you are a blank slater) aspect of human nature.
These data suggest that perceivers’ beliefs about who is a Democrat and Republican may be based on perceptions of traits stereotypically associated with the two political parties and that, indeed, the guidance of these stereotypes may lead to categorizations of others’ political affiliations at rates significantly more accurate than chance guessing.
In other words, pattern recognition is a valuable aid to anyone navigating the chaos of the real world, their denials they engage in such nefarious human-like activity to the contrary notwithstanding.