The Loh Down On Science

Do our politics affect our eyesight?

Young et al., Assoc. for Psych. Sci., 2013

Do our political views shape our literal views?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Ohio was a battleground.  Thousands of election commercials aired.  Escaping candidates' faces was impossible.

Meet Ohio State University psychologist Russell Fazio.  Fazio wondered:  Could a candidate’s image look different to people with different views?

He had college students view hundreds of headshots of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.  Each voted on which images they felt looked most like Romney.  But the images were all the same.  Just shaded differently.

Next he created composite photos.  One was based on images favored by right-leaning students.  The other by left-leaning students.

Lastly, other students voted on which composite image looked more trustworthy.  Almost everyone's choice?  The right-leaning student’s Romney.

Meaning Romney's supporters' positive mental image of Romney let them unknowingly choose more subtly flattering physical images, which then appealed to both sides.

But I’m still voting “yes” on “no.”  And “no” on “yes.”  Not negotiable.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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