Archive for June, 2010

Avatar Is Not Just a Movie

June 20, 2010 Leave a comment

You may hear about a study that suggests the attractiveness of your avatar in a virtual world influences how you’ll be treated. If you’d like to read the full-text of the study by Banakou & Chorianopoulis (2010) you can access the article here. Richard Landers has a nice summary and discussion of the article here – if you’d like a second opinion.

I’ll add a few cautions to the information contained in the above links:

  • the article contains a number of assertions followed by the following statement in bold text: “Error! Reference source not found” – I’ve not seen this before in a published article but I do find it a bit concerning.
  • there’s no discussion of how the 9 (small n) subjects were recruited
  • attractiveness was not clearly defined
  • the article provides only descriptive statistics – no inferential statistics are presented

The authors describe the results of this study as “initial evidence” – so while their results are not surprising it is too early to generalize this line of research to the population at large.

Wayne Hooke

Categories: General

Candidate Appearance Matters

June 13, 2010 3 comments

Appearance matters – but not in the same way for male and female political candidates. Limiting this discussion to the beauty-relevant elements of Chiao, Bowman, & Gill’s 2008 study, being attractive has an effect on rates of voting for female candidates while appearing approachable has an effect on women’s rates of voting for male candidates (in a laboratory simulation). It is important to note that no other information about each candidate was given to the laboratory rater/voters.

Since the photographs were of actual candidates in U.S. Congressional elections, the authors were able to also assess how ratings of attractiveness and approachability of faces in photographs in the lab related to real-world election results. Using this metric, female candidates’ attractiveness had a much smaller effect overall (r=.09*); as did male candidates’ approachability for women (r=.18*). Appearance does seem to matter for political candidates, but, appearance is not the only thing voters attend to when voting.


  • Stimuli were of actual political candidates


  • Subjects were undergraduate students at Northwestern University

Interestingly, in the actual congressional elections, laboratory ratings of how competent and dominant faces appeared correlated with a candidate getting elected.

Wayne Hooke
*not statistically significant

ResearchBlogging.orgChiao, J., Bowman, N., & Gill, H. (2008). The Political Gender Gap: Gender Bias in Facial Inferences that Predict Voting Behavior PLoS ONE, 3 (10) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003666