Smiling, shoulders straight, being confident: all advice your mother would give you. But how much of a difference can a big wide smile really make? Apparently quite a lot, according to a paper by researchers in Australia who looked at the effect of smiling on the probability of politicians winning elections.
They use a smile index based on face recognition technology to rate photographs of politicians in Japan and Australia – and find that there is a statistically significant and substantial link between smiling and winning votes. For example, in Australia, a candidate with a full smile compared to one with no smile received on average a 5.2 percentage points higher share of the vote.
Is it possible that candidates who are more confident of winning are more likely to smile? Ah, the direction of causality – so often difficult to decide – so it would be interesting to see more research in this area.
In the meantime, perhaps this provides another explanation for why Gordon Brown, whose smile was often criticised as being a bit on the scary side, couldn’t repeat Tony Blair’s previous election success…
The full paper is here.