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Political Affiliation Can Be Differentiated By Appearance

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the if-it-looks-like-a-liberal-and-quacks-like-a-liberal dept.

Politics 262

quaith writes "It's not the way they dress, but the appearance of their face. A study published in PLoS One by Nicholas O. Rule and Nalini Ambady of Tufts University used closely cropped greyscale photos of people's faces, standardized for size. Undergrads were asked to categorize each person as either a Democrat or Republican. In the first study, students were able to differentiate Republican from Democrat senate candidates. In the second, students were able to differentiate the political affiliation of other college students. Accuracy in both studies was about 60% — not perfect, but way better than chance."

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Affliction T's (1)

fhuglegads (1334505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920306)

I'd to see Rush squeeze into one of those bad boys.

FACES OF YOUR CANDIDATES (4, Funny)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920590)

More CHOICE than ever before!

http://tinyurl.com/democratface [tinyurl.com]

http://tinyurl.com/republicanface [tinyurl.com]

If Obama is not a local or state socialist (-1, Troll)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920936)

Your "democratface" link leads to a photo of the leader of the National Socialist German Labor Party. Think about that name: "national socialist". Critics of President Obama have called his goals socialist, and his administration certainly operates on a national level. Godwin's law, I stop here.

Re:If Obama is not a local or state socialist (2, Informative)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921122)

Next time, click both links before you post.

Third parties aren't wild about him either (-1, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922136)

True, they're both Hitler. But not all critics of President Obama are from either of the major U.S. parties. Google libertarian criticism of obama > I'm Feeling Lucky [humblelibertarian.com] .

Re:FACES OF YOUR CANDIDATES (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921828)

I couldn't help but think about the old propaganda from then.. About how you could tell who was a Jew by their appearance, lots of rings, big nose, <insert_other_stereotype_of_Jews_in_Hitlers_Germany>.. Wonder how many people were rounded up because the "looked Jewish?"

Re:FACES OF YOUR CANDIDATES (2, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922232)

They used Temple records to find the Jews, and names, the stereotyping by feature was just something to stir up the Volk.

Re:Stereotypes (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922364)

Well, I always heard those Germans were sticklers for paperwork. (I'm about one quarter German, by descent.) I've always imagined that the Ethnicity was pretty well documented and substantiated. Probably correlating fairly well to our current conviction/execution : factual guilt ratio. Basically just a wild-ass guess, of course.

Obvious (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920308)

This should be easy enough. Hipsters are liberal, hicks are conservative. Pretty easy to identify them from facial hair amongst other cues.

Re:Obvious (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30920468)

The majority of white people in the US, who voted for McCain, are hicks?

Re:Obvious (2, Interesting)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921612)

Nobody voted for McCain. They voted for Palin. And yes, they were urbanally challenged.

Re:Obvious (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922020)

You are taking a statistical study, and the obvious reason behind it, and then mis-applying it to make a derogatory statement.

What that would actually mean is that if you look like a hick, then people are going to call you a conservative, and they'd be right 60% of the time.

Re:Obvious (1)

JonStewartMill (1463117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922920)

They were (and are) either very rich or very stupid. Both provide physical 'tells'.

Two things Liberals HATE!!!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30920494)

There are two things Liberals hate!!!!!
1) Red-necks, and
2) Stereotyping

Re:Obvious (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920540)

This should be easy enough. Hipsters are liberal, hicks are conservative. Pretty easy to identify them from facial hair amongst other cues.

There are strange boundary cases however. Like when someone becomes so hipster they're hicks [latfh.com] [Warning, NSFW] like in the Jan 21st picture on that blog. And, like the theoretical Higgs Boson, if one traverses the hick spectrum far enough right they will eventually stumble upon some sort of strange class of so-Broke-Back-Mountain-it's-hipster ... while I don't have any pictures for you the Hipsters/Hicks Research Community That Takes Money from Parents Who Are Worried about Their Youths is all abuzz with the existence of them ... we're just not sure how to test for it yet without a dedicated blog sending us pictures of that particular subculture wildlife.

Re:Obvious (2, Funny)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920680)

Obvious? What party do these folks belong to?

http://tinyurl.com/partymember [tinyurl.com]

Can I join?

Re:Obvious (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920956)

Obvious? What party do these folks belong to?

I can see Teddy Kennedy reaching across the aisle on this one.

Re:Obvious (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920570)

And also, the guy who's actually drinking a beer during the photo shoot--probably a hick.

Re:Obvious (3, Interesting)

AB3A (192265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920942)

The old saw: "If you're not a liberal when you're young, you have no heart; if you're not a conservative when you're older, you have no brain." (Variants have been attributed to Winston Churchill, though there is no indication that he ever said this)

Age may not be such a bad indicator after all.

Re:Obvious (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921050)

Please note that Churchill was English. Liberal and conservative are totally different over there. Liberal means anti-government intervention, conservative means the opposite. For example Margaret Thatcher called Ronald Reagan "the greatest liberal of our time". So yeah, that makes sense- if you're naive you think that markets and good faith will make everything work out ok. When you get older and wise enough to know better, you want society to step in and fix shit.

Re:Obvious (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921444)

She must have been either desperate or delusional to describe Ronald "drug warrior" Reagan as "anti-government intervention"...

Re:Obvious (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921130)

And if you're a Green who realizes that political power oscillating back and forth between the conservatives and the liberals is a control system with feedback seeking balanced policy over time, then what can we make of you?

Re:Obvious (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922580)

"What can we make of you?"

Soylent green- GREEN!

The environmentally friendly Soylent green.

Try some today.

Re:Obvious (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922922)

And if you're a Green who realizes that political power oscillating back and forth between the conservatives and the liberals is a control system with feedback seeking balanced policy over time, then what can we make of you?

Clueless if not extremely interested in Preference Voting systems?

Re:Obvious (2, Funny)

JonStewartMill (1463117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922996)

So if you want to stay young, stay liberal? Works for me.

Re:Obvious (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921874)

I wouldn't be surprised if you could reach a 60% correlation between AGE and party affiliation; and I'm sure you can between GENDER and affiliation. Was the study normalized for those sorts of obvious flags?

Factors Are Likeability, Trustworthiness and Age (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920312)

Factor 1 (46% of variance explained) consisted of high loadings on likeability (.94) and trustworthiness (.97) and low loadings on dominance (.11) and facial maturity (.14). Factor 2 (42% of variance explained) consisted of high loadings on dominance (.92) and facial maturity

My grandmother used to tell me something along the lines of what is often misattributed to Churchill [wikiquote.org] :

If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.

And I would also like to point out for the college students that society (especially high school) often pigeonholes people and defines who they are on how they look. The individual sometimes has no choice and sometimes just accepts it and goes with it in order to belong. If you look older when you're young and people might instinctively treat you like a cold Republican. Always looked young and innocent? Then a warm Democrat.

Would be an explanation that agrees with the correlation the research drew to define the deviation from random guessing but nothing conclusive.

Re:Factors Are Likeability, Trustworthiness and Ag (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920564)

I'm a registered Independant you insensitive clod (well, I was when I was in a state that required you to claim a group to vote in primaries). I don't pick a candidate based on part affiliation.

Re:Factors Are Likeability, Trustworthiness and Ag (4, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920692)

The Churchill quote only demonstrates how clever rhetoric does not an argument make.

I am often amazed at how powerful a beautiful but specious assertion can be. Sometimes it is a compelling analogy that has no actual bearing on the topic at hand. Other times (as in this Churchill case) it is a clever dichotomy that begs the question. This particular quote is a wonderful example of begging the question. It is no more possible to support conservatism with it than it is possible to literally pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

That was an analogy, wasn't it? I hope you didn't find it too beguiling.

Re:Factors Are Likeability, Trustworthiness and Ag (1)

JonStewartMill (1463117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30923018)

Damn, I wish I hadn't posted in this thread before reading this. +1 Insightful!

Re:Factors Are Likeability, Trustworthiness and Ag (3, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920918)

If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.

Oh the sweet irony of that quote with the current popularity of Fox "News" :-)

Re:Factors Are Likeability, Trustworthiness and Ag (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921572)

Especially since, as has already been pointed out, the quote comes from England where "Liberal" and "Conservative" mean the opposite parties than they do in the US.

Re:Factors Are Likeability, Trustworthiness and Ag (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921312)

There's also the neurological differences between left and right leaning people. If your neurology might lead one toward one direction it might be that trait also carried some... *gasp* physiognomic traits.

Might be neat to do this experiment again by having all the people in the pics clean shaven, wearing a plain white T, and having a neutral facial expression.

Then run it again with the people smiling. Would a smiling face skew the results?

Geez, pick the black guy. (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920352)

What a dumb study. Of course you can pick a party affiliation by appearance. First off, if you always say a black guy is a Democrat, you'd be right 90% of the time, based on voting records. That would give you 60% overall correct, even if everything else was 50,50, assuming a sample set that roughly mirrors the population.

Re:Geez, pick the black guy. (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920556)

What a dumb study. Of course you can pick a party affiliation by appearance. First off, if you always say a black guy is a Democrat, you'd be right 90% of the time, based on voting records. That would give you 60% overall correct, even if everything else was 50,50, assuming a sample set that roughly mirrors the population.

Of course, if you RTFA, the photos of other students were all Caucasian.
So if you always said a "black guy" was a Democrat, it wouldn't have any effect on the results at all.

Re:Geez, pick the black guy. (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920846)

WASPs == Republican, Irish, Southern and Eastern European == Democrat. I think that gives at least a 60% chance of success.

Re:Geez, pick the black guy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30921322)

Uh hello... Irish Republican here... Well, technically I'm conservative, fuck both parties...

Re:Geez, pick the black guy. (3, Informative)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921684)

Somehow I think you and I have a different understanding of the term "Irish Republican"

Re:Geez, pick the black guy. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921166)

You read TFA? I'd say you;re a libertarian!

Re:Geez, pick the black guy. (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921080)

You didn't read the study. If you did, you would have seen that they actually tried to figure out what people were using to differentiate.

Apparently it's this: people with more powerful looking faces are more likely to be Republican (and are more likely to be chosen as Republican, regardless of their true affiliation), and people with warmer more friendly faces are picked to be Democratic

You should read the paper. They actually linked to the full study this time, so it's a worthy read; if you've never actually read a scientific study before, you'll realize how different real science is compared to how the press is when it reports on science.

Re:Geez, pick the black guy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30922264)

That's right! He's a BLACK guy, isn't he??

As black as the night itself, mayor.

when I work the polls I like to try and guess (3, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920356)

When I work the polls each year I try to pass the time by guessing the party affiliations of my voters.

"Hmm, large SUV and business suit. Republican."
"Large breasted college age chick. Democrat."
"Subaru Outback and peacenik bumper stickers. Green Party."
"Pick-up truck and AR-15. Libertarian."

It's amazing how bored you get working a 15 hour day when you only get 40 voters.... ;)

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (1)

kellin (28417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920488)

What would you give an average dressed dude driving a Jetta Turbo?

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920524)

Independent/unaffiliated

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920632)

If he's an American, he's a liberal. Only rich Republicans drive foreign cars--and they would drive something more expensive than a Jetta.

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30921628)

What would you give an average dressed dude driving a Jetta Turbo?

Rapist...

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (4, Funny)

0racle (667029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920580)

"Large breasted college age chick. Democrat."

Political affiliation is totally what I'd be thinking about here too.

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (1)

jocabergs (1688456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920636)

I was going to say something about stereotypes and how wrong you are, but then I looked out the window correlated cars in driveways along my street with political ideology and found you were right. Except for one glaring mistake, it doesn't matter what political ideology a college chick with big breasts has, I'll agree with what ever she says.

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (4, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920996)

But don't join the Democratic party thinking you're going to score. Those Dem babes only date Republican jerks.

It's a Democrat thing, and if you aren't in the party you wouldn't understand. We just can't resist a guy who will cynically screw with us then break our hearts.

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (0, Troll)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922112)

It's a Democrat thing, and if you aren't in the party you wouldn't understand. We just can't resist a guy who will cynically screw with us then break our hearts.

That certainly explains the last election!

As somebody who is fairly moderate politically this is why I always chuckled when conservative friends would cry about the sky falling if Obama were elected. I was pretty sure he'd turn out more-or-less the way he did. And, as an added bonus he has a pulse so that already gives us a net gain over the last two elections...

Same system - slightly different set of beneficiaries.

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30921106)

"Hmm, large SUV and business suit. Republican."
"Large breasted college age chick. Democrat."
"Subaru Outback and peacenik bumper stickers. Green Party."
"Pick-up truck and AR-15. Libertarian."

Do you have drive-thru voting where you live? How do you know what they drive?

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921832)

Because we have this fancy technology called "windows" in Upstate New York? Perhaps it hasn't filtered it's way down to you yet?

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30921622)

This Libertarian has GOT to find one of THOSE Democrats... ;)

Mental Pictures Of Libertarians (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921806)

When I think of the libertarians, one of two images usually come to mind:

1. An overweight wife-swapping gun nut with lots of unkept facial hair chomping on a large turkey leg (and getting large pieces of meat stuck in the beard/mustache). In other words, someone who sort of resembles ESR.

2. A rail thin wife-swapping gun nut who's shaved off all his body hair except what's on his head and who gets all his nutrients from a liquid diet that's supposed to make him live 140 years. In other words, picture someone who sort of resembles poo-master and Dual-Action Cleanse spokesperson Klee Irwin.

Re:Mental Pictures Of Libertarians (1, Insightful)

toadlife (301863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922802)

3) A young college student who's never worked a day in his/her life and whose tuition is being paid for by Mom and Dad.

Re:when I work the polls I like to try and guess (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922146)

We used to do that when we were election judges. It was a great time. See, my mom was the precinct leader for the Republicans, and I was the precinct leader for the Democrats, and we were 2/3 of the total election judges, so we'd sit there and make (very quiet) bets as people walked in. A little tricky insofar as our precinct was about 40% Republican, 40% unaffiliated, and 20% Democratic, so we had an awfully poor record for correctly guessing Democrats (except for the ones we knew.) We very rarely had anyone who had affiliated outside R and D, though, so our choices were slimmer. Still, a good time had by all.

You can tell by their car (3, Funny)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920380)

Lets play a game someone's driving a clunker and they have 80 bumper stickers on it, which way to they lean?

Re:You can tell by their car (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920600)

Don't care. It's a bum.

Re:You can tell by their car (1)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920788)

depends on the bumper stickers.

Re:You can tell by their car (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920954)

I said 80 bumper stickers though, 2-3 bumper stickers it does matter what they say, but past that it doesn't matter; of all the years I've been driving there was one exception and actually I saw it last week.

Re:You can tell by their car (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921036)

Usually easy to tell the in the field; but actually pretty hard from just your description.

There is the hippy version, which will be some sort of beat-up Volkswagen loaded with "Coexist" stickers and vegan knicknacks and faded campaign paraphernalia either for a local green party candidate or for Nader; back when he was cool. Also likely is the presence of an "evolve" fish, a sticker supporting some candidate for local school board, and the phrase "my karma ran over your dogma".

Then there is the crazy jesus freak version, which will be some sort of beat-up American car plastered with "choose life" and "abortion stops a beating heart" stickers, along with at least one jesus fish(just a basic outline, or an outline with a cross inside if it is a moderate crazy jesus freak, a jesus fish with "truth" inside devouring a legged darwin fish if it is a militant crazy jesus freak). If the driver is male, there will probably be a "Gun control means 3 rounds to center mass" or similar sticker along with proclamations of loyalty to Limbaugh and at least one republican candidate(or a Constitution Party candidate, if the car belongs to a truly 100% USDA Prime wacko). If female, the stickers are more likely emphasize maudlin expressions of hyperemotional christian piety rather than politics.

In rare cases, you may encounter the Heavy Metal clunker, whose political leanings can be quite hard to discern. A rusting, but resplendently airbrushed, van adorned with stickers from bands that take skulls, spikes, umlauts, and succubus bikini chicks with battleaxes extremely seriously. You'll need a pretty solid knowledge of Metal to figure out the politics of the driver. Depending on the bands listed, you could be looking at a more or less apathetic individual who just likes that sort of music, or anything from an anarchist to a white power fascist. A clunker with 80 bumper stickers is a very good indicator that the driver leans hard; but you actually need to read one or two to see which way.

Re:You can tell by their car (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921232)

"In rare cases, you may encounter the Heavy Metal clunker, whose political leanings can be quite hard to discern."

But it really doesn't matter - they are probably the LEAST likely to actually vote.

Re:You can tell by their car (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922504)

I was thinking the left leaning on my description, main indication being more than 3 bumper stickers.

I've never seen a Jesus freak w/ more than 3 bumper stickers, I've live in a couple of different area's in Jesus land.

Way better than chance? (2)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920416)

60% versus 50%? How is that WAY better?

Re:Way better than chance? (1)

Victor_0x53h (1164907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920526)

I believe statistically significant deviation is .8%, but someone more knowledgeable should correct me if I'm wrong.

Re:Way better than chance? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920672)

Its dependant on your sample size.

Re:Way better than chance? (5, Informative)

GradiusCVK (1017360) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920834)

Statistical significance can't be pinned down to a number like .8% in the general case - statistical significance is hugely dependent upon the sample size. However, the parent poster is correct in that the article was referring to statistical significance, not necessarily to a huge correlation. Generally speaking, a study like this makes an assumption that there is no connection between appearance and political affiliation (i.e. the average accuracy of these guesses should be something like 50% - could be higher or lower depending on how the study was executed - if there were 3 possible parties to choose from instead of two for example, or if it was well known that 90% of the participants all belonged to a given party). They then execute an experiment which provides evidence for or against that hypothesis. Whatever they were expecting (let's say it was 50% correct answers if it was totally random), they found 60% correct answers - and because of the number of people participating in the study, they determined that the chances that they would find 60% correct answers if the guesses really were random (i.e. there was no hint from appearance) would have been astronomically small. In this way, 60% correct can give incredibly convincing evidence that appearance is linked to political affiliation, even if that link is relatively subdued (after all, 60% is not that much more than 50%).

Re:Way better than chance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30921116)

Let's put it this way. Luck like that in a game of chance would land you in jail in Vegas.

Re:Way better than chance? (4, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922142)

60% versus 50%? How is that WAY better?

With a large enough sample size a result like this can be highly statistically significant, but still useless as a predictor.

For example, if I have 2000 marbles, half white and half black, and pull them out randomly and ask you to predict what colour each one is, if you guessed correctly 60% of the time (you got 600 white marbles correct and 600 black marbles correct) you'd be bumping up against three sigma (over 99%) odds of your results NOT being due to chance, but some incredible marble-colour-guessing gene that evolution or possibly archeobacteria had slipped you. Up the number to 20,000 marbles with 60% accuracy and you'd be a proven phenomenon, even though you utility as a marble-colour picker would be pretty much useless unless it also happened to work on a roulette wheel.

This is something that it can be hard for people outside the machine learning community to understand: an enormously significant result, statistically, can still make for a practically useless classifier.

Re:Way better than chance? (2, Informative)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922356)

Indeed. Or my take on it: there's a difference between statistically significant and actually significant.

Better than chance? (0)

ElectricBuddha (1726624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920418)

Considering that you have a 50% chance of picking the right one when it just is up to chance, 60% ain't impressing me much.

Re:Better than chance? (2, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920646)

Are you kidding? This isn't ten coin flips with a 4:6 result... this was 118, and ALL the results point to an increase in probability of a successful guess. If it were up to chance, none of those samples would point in the right direction, however they all *do*.

Re:Better than chance? (1)

ShatteredArm (1123533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921002)

The probability of accidentally getting it right at least 60% of the time with 118 trials is 2.6%, assuming an equal distribution of Republicans and Democrats. Not likely, but certainly not outside the realm of possibility. If I remember correctly, statisticians typically use 2.5% in a two-sided hypothesis test. I didn't RTFA, but it seems it could be too close to be able to declare statistical significance with just 118 trials. Then again, I might be butchering statistics, given it's been a few years.

Re:Better than chance? (1)

gimmebeer (1648629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920676)

My thoughts exactly. Especially when you factor in the fact, which others are posting about, that you can often tell by the way a person dresses/carries themselves whether they are mostly liberal or conservative. That fact alone should more than make up for the above-chance positive rate that this study observed. This sounds suspiciously like a researcher trying to make a big deal out of something that is fundamentally common sense.

Re:Better than chance? (5, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920882)

Sure, the Republican candidate is usually the one with a blue suit jacket with American Flag pin, white shirt and tie. Often they have the jacket slung over their shoulder and their sleeves rolled up.

The Democratic candidate, of course, is the one with a blue suit jacket with American Flag pin, white shirt and tie. Look for them carrying their jacket slung over their shoulder with their sleeves rolled up.

Then there's hair. Republicans either have naturally good hair, or they overcompensate so much that their hair looks like a mutated doughboy helmet. They never have beards. The Democrats on the other hand either have obviously elaborate and expensive haircuts, although many of them just have naturally good hair. Key point: they're always clean shaven.

Now as to actual policies -- don't get me started on that.

Re:Better than chance? (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921474)

I wouldn't expect you to have read the article, but at least read the summary.

A study published in PLoS One by Nicholas O. Rule and Nalini Ambady of Tufts University used closely cropped greyscale photos of people's faces, standardized for size.

The article explained further:

Each photo was cropped to the extremes of the targets' heads (top of head, bottom of chin, sides of hair or ears), converted to grayscale, and standardized for size. To avoid race-based stereotypes, racial minority candidates were excluded from the study.

In the first study, they took photos from politicians websites and eliminated any responses that recognized said politicians. In the second study, they took random photos of college seniors from 2000-2008 and no participants recognized any of the photos.

So no, the way in which individuals carried themselves or their dress should not have had much affect, if any, on the way the photos were categorized. Certainly it should not have accounted for a 10% increase in accuracy over random assignment, especially in a study with such a large sample size.

Re:Better than chance? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921132)

10% == way better! RTFS!

One suite, two suite... (2, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920506)

Politicians are all the same, regardless of their affiliated party.

Re:One suite, two suite... (1)

ornil (33732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921026)

You have to be careful about generalizations. They may all be amoral (or not, I don't especially care), but they happen to vote in certain predictable ways, different for each one, so by supporting a certain politician over another, you can in fact get different results. Just don't fall in love with them.

Re:One suite, two suite... (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921058)

So Mr. Geisel was hiding social commentary in even the non-obvious spots. Neat.

Re:One suite, two suite... (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922200)

Your kidding of course. Well on one level you may be right, like evolution, the principal works on everything, but the strange bedfellows might be a squirel and a squid. So the process of politics, (making comprimises to come to a concensus to get things done is the same, a messy business for sure) but what is being legistlated is very different. You would not see the Republican party trying to enact a program that would keep people from loosing their houses to businesses, or from starving or freezing to death. They would not support making regulations that would protect banks from say failing, or for regulating compainies so they did not cheat honest folk out of their money. They would be for privatizing almost everything, selling off the National Forests, giving away the oil reserves to oil companies, giving no-bid contracts to large companies that they owned stock in, start unneeded wars to churn the military industrial complex, deregulate energy companies and when they get caught cheating people out of money and fail, hire 90% of those exectutives into the government.

Lets not talk about the difference between message and reality with all the Family Values party member scandels in the last few years. The conservatives are master of message. To bad they are selling you a bill of goods, for their interests not yours.

I don't think you would find the Democratic party supporting or legislating any of those things. There is a stark difference in philosophy and approach, a stark difference in what is considered in the best interest of the country and its citizens.

Brother you have been sold a bill of goods by the Conservatives who know and have stated as a strategy, that they do better when voter turnout is low. They have you believing that your vote does not count because its all the same, Wake up, its not the same and your vote makes all the difference in the world. The whole world knows that, and even gave Obama a Nobel Peace prize because They know the difference.

Whatever you do dont waste your vote.

correlation is not causation (0)

Kirijini (214824) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920722)

Where's the "correlation is not causation" tag?

Re:correlation is not causation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30920864)

Where's the "correlation is not causation" tag?

It's not there for a reason. This is a study about correlation, doesn't speak to causation. "Correlation != causation" would be redundant, if you RTFO.

Re:correlation is not causation (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921108)

Right next to the "I don't understand statistics and won't bother to read their methodology" tag.

Re:correlation is not causation (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921148)

Out in the tag dorms, taking a nap and waiting for a story where it might actually be relevant.

Re:correlation is not causation (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922408)

True, correlation does not imply causation. However, lack of correlation does imply lack of causation. Therefore, correlation implies that causation hasn't been ruled out. So either A causes B, B causes A, A and B have a common cause, or it was a fluke and the null hypothesis is true. Further investigation distinguishes these cases.

Hey wait (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30920790)

And I have invented a method for telling if someone is a criminal by taking various measurements of their head! I think I will call this "phrenology".

could it be age? (-1, Redundant)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921098)

"If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain."
--Not Winston Churchill.

Disappointing... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30921112)

Admittedly, i've only been browsing through the text and images, but i haven't seen anything to warrant a statement like the following:

In sum, the finding that political affiliation can be accurately judged from targets' faces extends our knowledge of the power of facial cues in forming accurate impressions of others.

And looking at the results of study 3: Standard deviations that are consistently about twice the size of the difference of means are telling me only one thing: don't bother.

Correllation (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921406)

You can get much better than 60% simply by differentiating male and female faces, and improve that more by distinguishing age.

It's easy (1)

meheler (193628) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921550)

Republicans = Blue Ties
Democrats = Red Ties

I never did get that.

Guess my affiliation (4, Funny)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30921554)

I'm not going to state my party affiliation. I'll just say that when I saw that this pointless study was funded by OUR TAX DOLLARS via an NSF grant, I thought, "God help us!"

Not statistically significant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30922182)

If you are at all familiar with testing identity of bitrate in music, known as ABX, you will realize that it requires a minimum of 13/16 correct selections, or around an 80% accuracy rate, otherwise it is possible (and perhaps even probable) that the results are flawed due to factors of chance.

60% (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922210)

My Iguana has better liberal and conservative recognition chances than that.

What is the point of this w/o socialized medicine? (0, Flamebait)

StormyWeather (543593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922348)

When the progressives nationalized healthcare system started going up in smoke I assumed eugenics wouldn't stand a chance of coming back, because if you can't force "healthcare" on people then what good is sorting them out by appearance. I'm not sure where this is going unless they truly feel they can get the socialized healthcare (circa germany turn of the century) fully implemented.

Appearance for political stance
Head bumps for intelligence
eyebrows for demeanor
nose shape for whether you should be humanely euthanized.

We've seen this movie before.

Re:What is the point of this w/o socialized medici (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30922844)

You're an idiot.

Obama: Neither Democrat nor Republican (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30922588)

Obama isn't a democrat or a republican. He's just another asshole politician with bad ideas, bad leadership and bad execution. It is obvious that just because someone is considered intelligent, does not make them a good leader.

I voted for the guy. Drove seven hours to see him get sworn in, in the freezing cold. "Our generation's JFK!" he was going to be. Pfft. This asshole is destroying America piece by piece. Everything that makes us great, he seeks to undermine. Damn, even Dubya understood the symbolic importance and scientific value of the space program, which has given us so many new technologies over the years and keeps hundreds of thousands of people employed

Somebody needs to do SOMETHING about this idiot - the Republicans sure aren't. They're like babies: the only sound they can babble is "no, no, no, no, no..."

60% of all statistics are made up on the spot (0)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922792)

60%, not far enough off from standard deviation to make me care. Just more crap, how much did this study cost me?

Studied differences between Liberals/Conservatives (1)

OnTheEdge (136784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30922964)

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt has an interesting discussion on TED (<a href="/talks/lang/eng/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html">http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html</a>) about 5 distinct moral values and the different ways liberals and conservatives score on each of them. I can see where those mental differences/preferences might expose themselves physically in dress or emotionally in facial expressions. Speculation yes, but it seems plausible given that there are so many subtle visual clues we each give off that we are very much unaware of.
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