Male politicians have 'bigger heads' in more gender-equal cultures

Oct 17, 2012

When it comes to analyzing gender stereotypes in the media, studies have shown that photographs of men focus on male faces while photographs of women are more focused on women's bodies. A recent study from Psychology of Women Quarterly, a SAGE journal, finds that this type of "face-ism" is even more extreme in cultures with less educational, professional, and political gender discrimination.

"Being in a relatively egalitarian does not shield politicians from this face-ism bias; in fact, it exacerbates it," wrote study authors Sara Konrath and Josephine Au.

The researchers examined the differences in face-ism by measuring the facial prominence of over 6, 500 male and female political figures in from more than 25 different . Facial prominence was determined by measuring the length of the head in a photograph (from the chin to the top of the head) and comparing it to the length of the body shown in the photograph. The researchers then analyzed these face/body ratios by culture and found that women's bodies were more prominent in photographs from cultures in which women have more educational, professional, and political opportunities.

The authors wrote, "Understanding this double-bind is fundamental to understanding how societal pressures might shape the visual depictions of male and female leaders online, whether political or otherwise."

The authors claimed that stereotypes associated with each gender are more divergent in richer and more institutionally gender-equal cultures overall, and that these photographs are simply a of a deeply-ingrained, cultural concept.

"The face-ism bias is likely due to unconscious influences, so simply making politicians and their support staff aware of this bias and its negative implications for female politicians could reduce this bias."

Explore further: Why plants in the office make us more productive

More information: "Cultural Differences in Face-ism: Male Politicians Have Bigger Heads in More Gender-Equal Cultures" in Psychology of Women Quarterly, available free for a limited time at pwq.sagepub.com/content/early/… 455317.full.pdf+html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A pretty face can make a difference in whom you vote for

Oct 30, 2008

First it was Hillary Clinton, and now Sarah Palin. Everyone is talking about the year the glass ceiling finally cracked, if not shattered, in U.S. politics. According to new Northwestern University research, it is not at ...

The myth of the 'queen bee': Work and sexism

Jun 20, 2011

Female bosses sometimes have a reputation for not being very nice. Some display what's called "queen bee" behavior, distancing themselves from other women and refusing to help other women as they rise through the ranks. Now, ...

Suicide methods differ between men and women

Aug 30, 2011

Women who commit suicide are more likely than men to avoid facial disfiguration, but not necessarily in the name of vanity. Valerie Callanan from the University of Akron and Mark Davis from the Criminal Justice Research Center ...

Are women voters more likely to vote for female candidates?

Mar 31, 2008

The research, conducted by University of Wisconsin’s Kathleen Dolan, examined the National Election Study (NES) data, which provided information about voters’ reactions to female candidates and whether gender affinity ...

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

Aug 29, 2014

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

Aug 29, 2014

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

Aug 28, 2014

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PhotonX
not rated yet Oct 17, 2012
Why is this surprising? Assuming, I think correctly, that most of the photographers are males, doesn't that explain it?