Colloquium by Israel Waismel-Manor: The Makeup of a Candidate

political colloquiaOn Monday, April 28 visiting Associate Professor Israel Waismel-Manor will be talking about “The Makeup of a Candidate: Physical Appearance, Setting, Intonation, Body Language and Electability” at 3:30 p.m. in Communications 126. Dr. Waismel-Manor teaches political science at Stanford University and is also a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa.

Synopsis: Physical attractiveness and overall appearance are valuable heuristics, leading to such outcomes as better hiring prospects, lower prison sentences and greater electoral success. While some components of a candidate’s appearance, like facial symmetry, are constant, others, such as facial hair, clothing, hairstyle, intonation and body language can be modified, and candidates spend much energy and money grooming and crafting them. But what is the added value of such modifications at the ballot? Employing professional actors and state-of-the-art professional video editing, this cross country research design uses twelve pairs of political campaign ads, shot to be identical to its paired ones except for a single manipulation. Controlling for candidates body language, shooting angles, charisma, intonation, soundtrack, setting and physical appearance, among others, we find that the general makeup of a candidate may significantly affect his or her electoral success (and trait evaluations), with some components being more significant than others. No evidence was found that voters who scored low on the Need for Cognition scale (Petty and Cacioppo, 1984) were more likely to be affected by such heuristics.

Bio: Israel Waismel-Manor is a Visiting Associate Professor at Stanford’s Department of Political Science and a Visiting Scholar at the Taube Center for Jewish Studies. He is a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa’s School of Political Science. His two main research areas center on the effects of political communication and political psychology on electoral preference formation, and the ways in which endocrinal mechanisms interact with electoral participation. Israel earned a B.A. in political science from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1996) and a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University (2005). His work has been published in such journals as The Journal of Communication, The International Journal of Press and Politics, Political Communication, The International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Political Behavior, and European Neuropsychopharmacology, and featured in several media outlets including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Reuters and the Jerusalem Post.