You’d better smile

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.

Scary smile?

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.

Big smile

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.

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One Response to You’d better smile

  1. Pingback: Benevolent dictators versus leaders with personality | Five Minute Economist's Blog

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