'Good looks help politicians get media attention'

Haifa U. research may induce Botox, weight loss.

July 8, 2010 05:56
1 minute read.
MK Anastasia Michaeli.

Anastasia Michaeli 311 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerzolomiski)

New research at the University of Haifa may induce politicians to fix their teeth, go to a hairstylist, lose weight, get Botox injections for wrinkles and improve their wardrobe.

Researchers at the university’s communications department found that good-looking politicians get more coverage in the media than plain or homely ones. However, the connection is stronger for male pols than for their female counterparts.

Dr. Yariv Tsfati, Dr. Yisrael Waismel-Manor and Dana Markowitz-Alfasi (whose degree thesis was based on the research) asked Dutch students to rank the looks of all 120 members of the 16th Knesset (which served from 2003 to 2006) according to the MKs official photos.

The foreign students were chosen because they were unfamiliar with the faces and politics of the lawmakers. The results have just been published in the International Journal of Press/Politics.

Previous studies have shown that people tend to prefer friendship with good-looking individuals.

“From our research, it appears that journalists behave like the rest of humanity,” the researchers said. They also examined factors beside looks, such as age, sex, years in politics, political status and others.

After controlling for all the factors and examining media coverage of politicians, the team concluded that “handsome” male politicians get more coverage than plain or homely ones and “good-looking” female politicians get more attention from the media than “less attractive” ones.

But even though some female politicians got higher marks for their looks, they received less coverage than their male counterparts.

“Since in politicians, some like publicity and seek out the media more than others, who are more introverted or modest, it was important to check whether motivation to reach the media and extroversion determine the level of coverage,” they wrote.

But it turned out that looks are a much stronger factor, unconnected to these other factors, they continued, without giving names of politicians or describing them as good-looking or homely.

Israeli politicians’ tenure in politics, political status – such as being a cabinet minister – and past military rank also influence coverage, they found.

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