Who Cares What They Wear? Media, Gender, and the Influence of Candidate Appearance (Article, 2014) [WorldCat.org]
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Who Cares What They Wear? Media, Gender, and the Influence of Candidate Appearance
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Who Cares What They Wear? Media, Gender, and the Influence of Candidate Appearance

Author: Danny Hayes Affiliation: George Washington University; Jennifer L Lawless Affiliation: American University; Gail Baitinger Affiliation: American University
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication:Social Science Quarterly, v95 n5 (December 2014): 1194-1212
Summary:
Objectives: This article seeks to determine whether candidate appearance influences election outcomes, and if so, whether the effect depends on the politician's sex. For all of the scholarly attention these questions have received in recent years, the way that media coverage of candidate appearance shapes voters’ evaluations remains unclear.  Read more...
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Details

Document Type: Article
All Authors / Contributors: Danny Hayes Affiliation: George Washington University; Jennifer L Lawless Affiliation: American University; Gail Baitinger Affiliation: American University
ISSN:0038-4941
Language Note: English
Unique Identifier: 5697476762
Notes: Direct correspondence to Danny Hayes, Department of Political Science, George Washington University, Monroe Hall 471, 2115 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052 〈dwh@gwu.edu〉.
The authors thank Richard Fox and Eric Lawrence for comments on the survey instrument and an earlier version of this article. All of the data presented are available at: 〈http://home.gwu.edu/∼dwh/〉.
Awards:
Other Titles: Who Cares What They Wear?Who Cares What They Wear? Media, Gender, and the Influence of Candidate Appearance

Abstract:

Objectives: This article seeks to determine whether candidate appearance influences election outcomes, and if so, whether the effect depends on the politician's sex. For all of the scholarly attention these questions have received in recent years, the way that media coverage of candidate appearance shapes voters’ evaluations remains unclear.
Methods: We report the results of an experiment designed to shed light on these questions. We exposed a national sample of subjects to news coverage of candidates for a seat in the U.S. Congress. We varied whether the candidate was a man or a woman, and whether the candidate's appearance was covered positively, negatively, neutrally, or not mentioned at all.
Results: Our analysis reveals that only negative appearance coverage has an effect, driving down evaluations by lowering voters’ assessments of candidates’ professionalism. Critically, though, the effect is identical for male and female candidates. Regardless of whether we examine overall candidate favorability, assessments of traits, or perceptions of issue-handling ability, female politicians do not pay a disproportionate price when the media focus on how they look.
Conclusions: Ultimately, even though candidate sex and physical appearance can matter to voters, these factors are unlikely to displace incumbency, partisanship, and ideology as principal drivers of election outcomes.

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