We are all doomed. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The utter irrationality of human decision making is currently making itself felt in the election process in the USA, as it has done in elections worldwide for years. This is not opinion, and this is not a political article: it’s a fact. Supposedly.
Candidates who APPEAR to be more competent than others win elections 68% of the time.
In a fascinating article for the Los Angeles Times, primatologist Robert Sapolsky explains that it’s not just confined to elections.
It seems there’s a link between whether criminals get parole or not and when the judge last had a meal. He goes on to list numerous other examples of subconscious influences on our decision making.
“In one well-studied phenomenon, when voters consider two candidates with identical positions, they tend to choose the one independently rated to be better looking. For male candidates this means tall, symmetrical features, high forehead, prominent brow ridges, jutting jaw. It’s part of a larger pattern — people judged to be attractive are typically rated as having better personalities, higher moral standards, as kinder and more honest. When job applicants present the same resume, the better looking is more likely to be hired. If miscreants are convicted of the same crime, the better looking tends to serve less time.”
I’ve written before on the link between effective leadership and the aysmmetry or not of peoples’ earlobes (and wrist width and finger length), featuring research mentioned in Harvard Business Review. In summary, unless we look the part we are not going to going to win on the basis of our compelling argument or the quality of our campaign. We just need to look right. How scary is that?
There has to be good money to be made in defining what “competent” looks like, and then of course offering plastic surgery or something to help us to get closer to that definition.
Meanwhile of course we need to predict the outcome of the American Presidential election, which will simply be a matter of how Hilary and Donald look. Here’s my totally independent and apolitical assessment. I am using my new Candidate Assessment Tool specially devised for this exercise: maximum 10 points for overall height, ear lobe size (aysmmetrical is good), jaw jut, forehead height and prominence of brow ridges. 50 points maximum in total.
Donald, 45 marks.
Good work on height and jaw, they are hard to beat.
Sorry Hilary, it’s a slam dunk from Don. He beat you by a full 10 points – an outright majority verdict.
I’m being flippant, of course, (politics tends to bring out the worst in me).
There is a serious point to make. Some people have natural features which work either for or against them when it comes to convincing others of our competence and leadership ability. There’s not much you can do about your height or your wrist width. I guess you just learn to compensate in other ways.
Margaret Thatcher famously had voice coaching to lower her vocal tone, presumably to make her sound more “manly” in the male-dominated corridors of power. There is plenty you can do with your eyes to improve your appearance of competence: don’t look at the floor when you’re making your point, for instance. Hold eye contact with one person in the audience for a moment so that you are genuinely connecting with them. And much else besides
But just be aware that when you’ve done all that, the people you are trying to convince are about as rational as my dog is when he sees a squirrel on our bird feeder. Just because your argument makes sense, doesn’t mean we are going to get your message.
Footnote: my apologies to any of you who received a previosuly published Blog in your Inbox recently. My subscriber database tool has developed a mind of its own, it seems, and is now publishing without my permission. Do that one more time and you’ll be fired, mister!