Thursday, February 12, 2009

Faces

The New Scientist take on faces gives one pause...

"First impressions are highly influential, despite the well-worn admonition not to judge a book by its cover. Within a tenth of a second of seeing an unfamiliar face we have already made a judgement about its owner's character - caring, trustworthy, aggressive, extrovert, competent and so on (Psychological Science, vol 17, p 592). Once that snap judgement has formed, it is surprisingly hard to budge. What's more, different people come to strikingly similar conclusions about a particular face - as shown in our own experiment (see "The New Scientist face experiment").

People also act on these snap judgements. Politicians with competent-looking faces have a greater chance of being elected, and CEOs who look dominant are more likely to run a profitable company."

To give credence to this analysis, I give you Warren G. Harding, a good looking predecessor to "W".

"Behind the facade, not all of Harding's Administration was so impressive. Word began to reach the President that some of his friends were using their official positions for their own enrichment. Alarmed, he complained, "My...friends...they're the ones that keep me walking the floors nights!"

"Although a commanding and powerful speaker, Harding was notorious for his verbal gaffes, such as his comment "I would like the government to do all it can to mitigate, then, in understanding, in mutuality of interest, in concern for the common good, our tasks will be solved."[21]

Sound Familiar?
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