Facing the voters: the potential impact of ballot paper photographs in British elections

Robert Johns, Mark Peter Shephard

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A growing body of literature has found that photographs of politicians can influence electoral preferences. In this article we assess whether candidates rating higher on electoral attractiveness perform better in a series of hypothetical elections, and whether their advantage is magnified when their appearance is printed not only on campaign materials but also on ballot papers. We find that candidate appearance only had a significant impact on vote choice when photographs were printed on ballot papers, and even then there was an impact on only some of the elections, notably those pitting male against female candidates. Photographs had most impact on the choices of those least interested in politics and least likely to vote, and magnified a tendency (among voters of all ages) to favour younger candidates and to penalise older candidates. Findings suggest that the addition of photographs to ballot papers could affect the outcomes of marginal British constituency races.

LanguageEnglish
Pages636-658
Number of pages23
Volume59
No.3
Specialist publicationPolitical Studies
PublisherWiley-Blackwell
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

Fingerprint

candidacy
election
voter
social attraction
politician
campaign
rating
politics

Keywords

  • voting
  • general elections
  • elections
  • ballot papers

Cite this

@misc{c5cc4dd559f848a4a6cb9de4a28b07e5,
title = "Facing the voters: the potential impact of ballot paper photographs in British elections",
abstract = "A growing body of literature has found that photographs of politicians can influence electoral preferences. In this article we assess whether candidates rating higher on electoral attractiveness perform better in a series of hypothetical elections, and whether their advantage is magnified when their appearance is printed not only on campaign materials but also on ballot papers. We find that candidate appearance only had a significant impact on vote choice when photographs were printed on ballot papers, and even then there was an impact on only some of the elections, notably those pitting male against female candidates. Photographs had most impact on the choices of those least interested in politics and least likely to vote, and magnified a tendency (among voters of all ages) to favour younger candidates and to penalise older candidates. Findings suggest that the addition of photographs to ballot papers could affect the outcomes of marginal British constituency races.",
keywords = "voting, general elections, elections, ballot papers",
author = "Robert Johns and Shephard, {Mark Peter}",
year = "2011",
month = "10",
doi = "10.1111/j.1467-9248.2010.00874.x",
language = "English",
volume = "59",
pages = "636--658",
journal = "Political Studies",
issn = "0032-3217",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",

}

Facing the voters : the potential impact of ballot paper photographs in British elections. / Johns, Robert; Shephard, Mark Peter.

In: Political Studies, Vol. 59, No. 3, 10.2011, p. 636-658.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

TY - GEN

T1 - Facing the voters

T2 - Political Studies

AU - Johns, Robert

AU - Shephard, Mark Peter

PY - 2011/10

Y1 - 2011/10

N2 - A growing body of literature has found that photographs of politicians can influence electoral preferences. In this article we assess whether candidates rating higher on electoral attractiveness perform better in a series of hypothetical elections, and whether their advantage is magnified when their appearance is printed not only on campaign materials but also on ballot papers. We find that candidate appearance only had a significant impact on vote choice when photographs were printed on ballot papers, and even then there was an impact on only some of the elections, notably those pitting male against female candidates. Photographs had most impact on the choices of those least interested in politics and least likely to vote, and magnified a tendency (among voters of all ages) to favour younger candidates and to penalise older candidates. Findings suggest that the addition of photographs to ballot papers could affect the outcomes of marginal British constituency races.

AB - A growing body of literature has found that photographs of politicians can influence electoral preferences. In this article we assess whether candidates rating higher on electoral attractiveness perform better in a series of hypothetical elections, and whether their advantage is magnified when their appearance is printed not only on campaign materials but also on ballot papers. We find that candidate appearance only had a significant impact on vote choice when photographs were printed on ballot papers, and even then there was an impact on only some of the elections, notably those pitting male against female candidates. Photographs had most impact on the choices of those least interested in politics and least likely to vote, and magnified a tendency (among voters of all ages) to favour younger candidates and to penalise older candidates. Findings suggest that the addition of photographs to ballot papers could affect the outcomes of marginal British constituency races.

KW - voting

KW - general elections

KW - elections

KW - ballot papers

U2 - 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2010.00874.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2010.00874.x

M3 - Article

VL - 59

SP - 636

EP - 658

JO - Political Studies

JF - Political Studies

SN - 0032-3217

PB - Wiley-Blackwell

ER -