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How Do People Choose Their Political Leaders?
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The 2012 US presidential election is about to enter the final month of a long campaign season. With that in mind, I thought it timely to briefly discuss how people decide whom to vote for. Of course, many individuals vote along ideological grounds. The ensuing discussion does not apply to such folks. Rather, I restrict my focus on members of the electorate who genuinely do not hold any a priori bias toward either remaining candidates. Do such individuals weigh all of the relevant information on the candidates prior to arriving at a final “rational” and informed choice that maximizes their utility (to use the jargon of classical economics)? The answer is an emphatic no! Interested readers can check out my 2003 chapter titled “Evolution and Political Marketing” in the book Human Nature and Public Policy: An Evolutionary Approach edited by the biopoliticians Albert Somit and Steven A. Peterson. In the article, I applied evolutionary psychology in explaining the types of decision strategies and informational cues that voters use in arriving at a final choice.

To summarize the key gist of my argument, I proposed that people are driven by peripheral cues that are largely irrelevant to actual matters of policy. The height of competing candidates is perhaps the most influential of all such cues. In the great majority of presidential elections over the past one hundred years or so, the taller candidate has won. I have written extensively about height on my blog… For an interesting evolutionary lens on this issue, readers might wish to visit the writings of my fellow PT blogger Dr. Gregg Murray… The facial features of prospective (male) leaders constitute another important morphological feature (although Obama’s jaw line is less than ideal)… Sorry Ron Paul…that face ain’t going to cut out!

read more at Psychology Today

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