We like MPs who make a spectacle of themselves: Politicians who wear glasses are more likely to be voted into power, study suggests
- We prefer them in situations where serious problem-solving is needed
- 203 people were shown pictures of politicians and preferred those with glasses
- Those in glasses were seen as clever and were liked more regardless their party
Did your MP do badly at the ballot box? Perhaps they should have gone to Specsavers…
That’s because politicians who wear glasses are more likely to be voted into power, a study suggests.
In findings more likely to please bespectacled Jacob Rees-Mogg than Boris Johnson, psychologists have discovered voters prefer politicians in glasses because they seem intelligent and competent.
We seem to prefer them in peacetime situations where serious problem-solving is called for.
When 203 people were shown 16 pictures of politicians, they said they were most likely to vote for those with spectacles like, Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured)
When 203 people were shown 16 pictures of politicians, they said they were most likely to vote for those with spectacles.
Those in glasses were seen as clever and were liked more regardless of their party, further research found.
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A study led by the University of Cologne concluded that eyewear offers ‘an easy, effective and robust way for politicians to change their facial features and increase the probability of electoral success in the West (as long as competence is important)’.
The psychologists said politicians try to avoid wearing glasses in public because of possible associations with ‘vision deficiency, old age and weakness’.
Donald Trump taunted rival Jeb Bush during the 2016 US presidential campaign about getting contact lenses ‘to look cool’.
Donald Trump (pictured) taunted rival Jeb Bush during the 2016 US presidential campaign about getting contact lenses ‘to look cool’
But when participants from the US were asked to rate their voting intentions from a series of images – even with spectacles digitally added – they were more likely to vote for those in eyewear.
Faced with a peacetime scenario, people preferred a politician to wear glasses, but they had no preference when told the country was on the brink of war.
When dealing with a thorny legislative problem, voters wanted a politician who could ‘deliberate well’ rather than act fast – and were more likely to pick someone in glasses to do this.
A further experiment found spectacles held greater appeal for liberals than conservatives. The authors, writing in the journal Social Psychology, say glasses have commonly been worn by those performing intellectual or highly-skilled work, so they are associated with ‘success, dependability and industry and intelligence’.
Theresa May, who wears glasses in the Commons, is unusual among Prime Ministers in doing so. David Cameron waited months before wearing them, and appeared ‘noticeably uncomfortable’, say researchers, who also pointed out that no US president since Harry Truman has worn glasses in public.
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