Looks and Sounds Like a Winner: Perceptions of Competence in Candidates' Faces and Voices Influences Vote Choice

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2 Scopus citations


Voters are more likely to support candidates whose faces and voices are perceived as competent. However, what is the simultaneous influence of these two characteristics? Here this question is examined with an observational study and an experiment. In the observational study, subjects rated the facial competence of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The most and least competent faces identified were paired with recordings of competent (i.e., lower pitched) and incompetent (i.e., higher pitched) voices to create simulated candidates. For the experiment, a separate set of subjects voted between randomly generated pairs of these simulated candidates. The results show that candidates with competent faces or competent voices won more votes, but the influence of facial competence was nearly three times that of vocal competence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-240
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Political Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • candidate characteristics
  • competence
  • faces
  • perception
  • voice pitch
  • Vote choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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