Good-Looking People Tend to Vote Republican Because They've Had Easier Lives, Says Study

Having an easier life may persuade you to vote Republican. Joe Raedle/Newsmakers

What does your political affiliation have to do with your level of physical attractiveness? Perhaps more than you think. One study suggests that the two are intertwined, and that those who lean conservative and identify as Republican are often more physically attractive than their more liberal-minded Democratic counterparts.

A study published this past December in Politics and the Life Sciences found an interesting correlation between individuals' political beliefs and their level of physical attractiveness. Study co-author Carl Palmer, an assistant professor of politics and government at Illinois State University, told Newsweek that the results show if two individuals are similar in most respects, such as having a similar education and annual income, but different in their physical appearances, then the more attractive person is more likely to lean conservative than the less attractive individual.

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The study is based on data from various sets. The first of these was the American National Election Surveys of 1971, 1974 and 1976. The team began with 2,705 individuals who were interviewed in 1972 and had their appearances assessed by an interviewer at this time. Of this original 2,705, another 1,624 were interviewed in 1974, and then 1,320 were re-interviewed in 1976.

The team also used the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which originally consisted of 10,317 individuals, but the team focused on 5,247 individuals who were interviewed in 2004 and then 4,294 were who interviewed again in 2011.

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In order to gauge physical attraction, the team used information from two different data sets. In one, an interviewer assessed a respondent's physical attractiveness at the end of a face-to-face interview. In another set, a panel that was evenly split between men and women evaluated a respondent's high school yearbook photo.

Results soon revealed a trend between attraction and political affiliation unrelated to socioeconomic class. Rather, the team suspect the trend may be related to something called the "halo effect." This is a psychological term that describes our tendency to associate people who have one good characteristic as encompassing many other good qualities. For example, sometimes we automatically view better-looking people as being more intelligent, more successful and happier.

"This is not a deterministic fact, however—all attractive people are not conservative, and all unattractive people are not liberal," said Palmer.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is a Republican. Win McNamee/Getty Images

According to the research, as a result of the halo effect, more attractive people may have been treated differently over the course of their lives and therefore experience different and perhaps easier life experiences. These life experiences, in turn, influence their eventual political preferences.

"Not having faced the challenges of other citizens, more attractive individuals should be less supportive of remedying these challenges for the general public," the study reads.

Of course, the conclusion is very broad, and the researchers emphasize that their findings are not suggesting that all Republicans are attractive, or even that all Republicans live in a bubble that protect them from the hardships of life.

"What our findings speak to is that social experiences, such as how we are treated by others, can have meaningful implications for our political attitudes," Palmer wrote.