The 2012 US presidential election is about to enter the final month of a long campaign season. With that in mind, I thought it timely to briefly discuss how people decide whom to vote for. Of course, many individuals vote along ideological grounds. The ensuing discussion does not apply to such folks. Rather, I restrict my focus on members of the electorate who genuinely do not hold any a priori bias toward either remaining candidates. Do such individuals weigh all of the relevant information on the candidates prior to arriving at a final “rational” and informed choice that maximizes their utility (to use the jargon of classical economics)? The answer is an emphatic no! Interested readers can check out my 2003 chapter titled “Evolution and Political Marketing” in the book Human Nature and Public Policy: An Evolutionary Approach edited by the biopoliticians Albert Somit and Steven A. Peterson. In the article, I applied evolutionary psychology in explaining the types of decision strategies and informational cues that voters use in arriving at a final choice.

To summarize the key gist of my argument, I proposed that people are driven by peripheral cues that are largely irrelevant to actual matters of policy. The height of competing candidates is perhaps the most influential of all such cues. In the great majority of presidential elections over the past one hundred years or so, the taller candidate has won. I have written extensively about height on my blog… For an interesting evolutionary lens on this issue, readers might wish to visit the writings of my fellow PT blogger Dr. Gregg Murray… The facial features of prospective (male) leaders constitute another important morphological feature (although Obama’s jaw line is less than ideal)… Sorry Ron Paul…that face ain’t going to cut out!

read more at Psychology Today

Published On: September 30, 2012


  • Arya Smith says:

    I never took into account that the usual pattern of the winning candidate is someone who is taller than the other. Personally, I do not base my decision on that, but it must have a psychological reason. However, when the election starts again, I will make sure to check every inch of the candidate that I might be choosing to ensure that I cast my vote right especially that the world can be quite chaotic nowadays.

  • Vivian Black says:

    I love how you talked about the different grounds people have ideologically and how that impacts their vote. My husband and I are in Mississippi and we are looking for tips on who to choose to vote for as congressman. We will keep this article in mind as we search for the person we will vote for.

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