After watching ten-second silent video clips of competing gubernatorial candidates, participants in the study were able to pick the winning candidate at a rate significantly better than chance. When the sound was turned on and participants could hear what the candidates were saying, they were no better than chance at predicting the winner. For the study, Benjamin and Shapiro showed 264 participants, virtually all Harvard undergraduates, ten-second video clips of the major party candidates in 58 gubernatorial elections from 1988 to 2002.
Researchers found that the accuracy of predictions based solely on silent video clips was about the same as or greater than the accuracy of predictions based on knowledge of which candidate was the incumbent and information about the prevailing economic conditions at the time of the election, including the unemployment rate and any changes in personal income for the year prior to the election.
I understand that "leadership" is important for forming consensus and hence getting things done. And charisma is a large part of what makes some people seem like "leaders".
The findings also underscore the importance of charisma as distinct from policy positions or party affiliations in winning elections.
But what if the policy positions of the candidates with more charisma in fact stink out loud? Happens all too often...
Given candidates who lack principles and ethics, is there much difference between having charisma and being a good con artist?
Tags: political science, charisma, elections
Links to this post: