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Too Much an Out-Group? How Nonverbal Cues About Gender and Ethnicity Affect Candidate Support

  • Mauro Barisione (a1) and Shanto Iyengar (a2)
Abstract

Previous work on nonverbal cues has demonstrated the influence of candidates’ facial displays on voter preferences. However, the idea that visual cues affect political judgment by signaling the relative social solidarity (in-group vs. out-group status) between candidates and voters has received little attention. We fill this gap by experimentally manipulating facial cues associated with the physical features of gender and ethnicity (Afrocentric vs. Eurocentric-looking) and assessing their effects on candidate support in the context of the Italian 2013 general election. The experimental design is based on a CAWI post-election online survey conducted on a representative sample of Italian voters. We find that group differences between candidates and voters matter, but only among right of center voters, who respond more negatively to party candidates expressing “combined” (party x gender x ethnicity) dissimilarity. Gender- and ethnicity-based differences are, on the contrary, “assimilated” and accepted when the target candidate is from the voter's party.

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Journal of Experimental Political Science
  • ISSN: 2052-2630
  • EISSN: 2052-2649
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