Magazine article USA TODAY

A Republican Face Looks Different to Dems

Magazine article USA TODAY

A Republican Face Looks Different to Dems

Article excerpt

Political bias can influence how people perceive the facial characteristics of a presidential candidate--even after seeing his face on TV thousands of times, suggests a study by Ohio State University, Columbus. For instance, people's mental representation of 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney's face differed based on their political persuasion.

Though attitudes are known to influence how people perceive events and objects when information gaps cause ambiguity, this finding was surprising because the research participants potentially had been exposed to 40,000 election commercials between April 2012 and the vote in November.

'That our attitudes could bias something that we're exposed to so frequently is an amazing biasing effect," says Russell Fazio, professor of psychology and senior author of the study. "It suggests that people may not just interpret political information about a candidate to fit their opinion, but that they may construct a political world in which they literally see candidates differently."

The scientists asked research participants to compare multiple pairs of subtly different images of Romney's face and select which looked the most like him. …

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