60-Second Science

Good-Looking Politicians Get More TV Face Time

A study in Israel found that politicians who were rated as having good looks got more television coverage than plainer Jameses. Karen Hopkin reports

Being beautiful has its advantages. It can make you more popular, even make you seem more competent. Now, University of Haifa researchers have found that if you’re a politician, good looks will also make you seem more newsworthy—because better-looking pols get more media coverage, findings that appear in the International Journal of Press/Politics. [Yariv Tsfati, Dana Markowitz Elfassi and Israel Waismel-Manor,]

People respond to pretty faces. And broadcasters, it seems, are no exception. The researchers surveyed how much TV news coverage was given to every member of the Israeli Knesset on three local channels. At the same time, they showed pictures of these elected officials to Dutch students who knew nothing about Israeli legislators, and they asked the students to rate the politicians’ physical attractiveness. The results: generally speaking, the Knesset members with the highest marks for appearance appear most often on the nightly news.

There were some exceptions. Although female members were found to be more appealing than males, they receive less TV time—as do younger politicians, who were rated hotter than their elders.

The results suggest that although politics isn’t pretty, politicians should be. Especially if they want to take full advantage of a medium that loves a pretty face.

—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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