It’s election year! And politicians have been showboating their smiles all across the country. Politicians have power—but what about their pearly whites?
Smiles can influence elections.
In a crowded political field, votes often come down to subliminal qualities. Candidates who smile in campaign photos have improved polling outcomes, compared to those who don’t smile, according to a recent political psychology study. It’s a fine line for tough-as-nails politicians, as smiling is a submissive behavior. In fact, smiling revealed the loser of martial arts matches.
These findings would have voters believe that smiling is an indication that a competitor is outmatched by an opponent. As contentious as politics is, it’s not an MMA fight. So don’t count on Marco Rubio pulling a Ronda Rousey anytime soon.
The science of smiling is subtle in politics.
For voters, a smile is a glimpse into a candidate’s personality. A speech is scripted—smiles are not. If a candidate shows a subdued smile in the face of crowd cheers, it may indicate bashfulness. People who smile as their opponents are attacked can signal vindictiveness.
It’s not that one smile is better than another, it’s that the smile should be consistent with the message. If a candidate is speaking about hope for the future, his or her smile should appear happy, not staged or contemptuous.
So, no matter which candidate you vote for in the primary, take a look at his or her smile.
Curious about the smiles of local politicians? Gander at government portraits at the Arizona State Library and Capitol Museum.