Want To Rule The World? Wear Glasses
- Politicians who wear glasses receive more votes, new research reveals
- Glasses are seen as a sign of intelligence rather than weakness
- Even when voters are aware that a politician is wearing glasses for effect rather than for medical reasons, most still still choose to elect them
We’ve all seen the adverts. We all know how the saying goes; “Should have gone to Specsavers“. But who knew it was actually that simple?
It has been reported that some politicians will purposefully avoid wearing glasses as they view it as as a sign of weakness. There seems to be a perceived vulnerability for some in having vision deficiency – they believe it makes them less likeable and less dominant. And, of course, politicians depend on the public for their support – they need to be seen to be a leader in order to gain votes.
So why would a politician risk ruining their chances of success by putting their glasses on?
However, it seems that they might not be seeing things clearly. Researchers Dr. Alexandra Fleischmann and Dr. Joris Lammers at the University of Cologne examined the influence of glasses on voter approval and it turns out that, actually, politicians really should go to Specsavers.
Across a series of eight studies, Dr. Fleischmann and Dr. Lammers edited images of politicians to show them either with or without glasses. For each study, more than 200 participants were asked whether or not they would vote for the person in an election based purely on their appearance.
On this basis, the research found that wearing glasses actually made politicians more successful.
The researchers say that there are many positive attributes which work particularly well for those in positions of power; in particular, being seen to be studious, learned and wise. Dr. Fleischmann and Dr. Lammers report that this dates back to the Middle Ages, where monks used glasses to study. Since then, glasses have been linked to other intellectual and highly skilled roles, and instil feelings of dependability and trust.
Whilst we’ve always known that wearing glasses makes someone look “smart”, this study shows that, beyond this, doing so could also play a part in making someone more successful too, as simply donning a pair of specs boosted electoral votes across all studies.
So why don’t all politicians wear glasses then?
Of course, as with everything, it actually isn’t as simple as it sounds. Yes, wearing glasses may have a positive effect on some voters, but the researchers remind us that we also need to consider the many other factors that may affect a voter’s decision, for example, political orientation.
Dr. Fleischmann and Dr. Lammers found that one’s loyalty will always lie with the political party they agree with the most, as opposed to who might be wearing glasses and who might not be. However, political orientation also has an effect on how susceptible people are to finding glasses physically appealing. According to the study it turns out that, in general, Republicans prefer conservative-looking politicians, whilst liberals do not. So, the more dominant a politician looks, the more likely a Republican is to vote for them. As glasses tend to reduce dominance, it would follow that Republicans prefer a politician without glasses, whilst the more liberal prefer a politician with glasses.
The same also goes for attractiveness. Republicans prefer a more attractive politician, and as glasses have been seen to reduce attractiveness, Republicans are less likely to elect someone wearing glasses (perhaps that’s how Trump made it to president).
The political situation of the time may also require certain characteristics which stand out above a politician’s looks. For example, in times of conflict where people might be trying to survive threats to their group, people prefer a strong and dominant leader. When there is peace however, they prefer intelligent and cooperative leaders. Thus, similar conclusions to the above apply – where a more dominant leader is required, glasses do not have a positive contribution to their success.
Also, whacking on some smart looking frames as and when the political climate calls might also raise a few questions regarding morality. Surely, if a politician is using glasses to boost their electoral vote, they risk being seen as dishonest rather than intelligent? Well, perhaps not. Dr. Fleischmann and Dr. Lammers’ research found that even when participants were aware that the glasses had been photoshopped on, they still preferred to vote for the politician wearing them.
The findings prove that glasses offer an easy, effective, and robust way for politicians to change their facial features and increase their probability of electoral success. So, if you are looking to run for president or prime minister, or just want to try your luck at being elected team captain in your next pub quiz, your best bet is most definitely to go to Specsavers!