Human groups are unusual among primates in that our leaders are often democratically selected. Faces affect hiring decisions and could influence who we vote for. Here we show that facial appearance has important effects on choice of leader. We show that differences in facial shape alone between candidates can predict who wins or loses in an election (Study 1) and that changing context from war-time to peace-time can change the type of face that is voted for (Study 2). Our studies highlight the role of face shape in voting behaviour and the role of personal attributions in face perception. We also show that there may be no general characteristics of faces that can win votes, demonstrating that face traits and information about the environment interact in choice of leader.
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