Palin Too Sexy for White House?
A new report in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology finds scientifical proof that Sarah Palin’s hotness was a drag on the Republican ticket. The study by University of South Florida researchers Nathan Heflick and Jamie Goldenberg, cleverly titled, “Objectifying Sarah Palin: Evidence that Objectification Causes Women to be Perceived as Less Competent and Less Fully Human ,” found:
Although a great deal of research has examined the effects of objectification on women’s self-perceptions and behavior, empirical research has yet to address how objectifying a woman affects the way she is perceived by others. We hypothesize that focusing on a woman’s appearance will promote reduced perceptions of competence, and also, by virtue of construing the women as an “object,” perceptions of the woman as less human. We found initial experimental evidence for these hypotheses as a function of objectifying two targets — Sarah Palin and Angelina Jolie. In addition, focusing on Palin’s appearance reduced intentions to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket (prior to the 2008 U.S. Presidential election). We discuss these findings in the context of the election and the objectification of women.
Tom Jacobs dutifully digested the report and describes the research methodology:
They took a group of 133 undergraduates and assigned them to write a few lines about one of two celebrities: Palin or actress Angelina Jolie. Half of the participants in each category were asked to write “your thoughts and feelings about this person,” while the other half were asked to write “your thoughts and feelings about this person’s appearance.”
The participants were then asked to rate their subject (Palin or Jolie) in terms of various attributes, including competence. Finally, they were asked who they intended to vote for in the upcoming election.
Those who wrote about Palin’s appearance were more positive in their assessments than those who assessed her qualities as a person. But they rated her far lower in terms of competence, intelligence and capability, and were far less likely to indicate they planned to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket.
“It wasn’t her appearance per se” that soured people on Palin, Heflick said in an interview. “It was the effect her appearance had on their perception of her competence and humanity. Those variables made people less likely to vote for her.” (Not surprisingly, the participants’ feelings about Jolie did not influence their political opinions, whether they focused on her looks or personality.)
Come to think of it, I wouldn’t want Angelina Jolie to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, either.
Jacobs reminds us that Will Wilkinson raised this point very early in the campaign:
I think she is a tremendously sexy woman. How this will effect the race, I have no idea, but it’s just got to. It’s not an issue of glamour so much as a kind of Paglian chthonic sexual power. Set in that context, her unabashed embrace of her fecundity and motherhood as a kind of qualification makes a lot of sense.
LAT’s Andrew Malcolm quips, “would seem to suggest that, for any hope of success in 2012 or beyond, the 45-year-old governor needs to whack off that hair, pork up a bit and get some cheap, baggy pantsuits over at the Wasilla Wal-Mart. And instead of that come-on wink that many thought they liked, she’d do well to develop an uncontrollable facial twitch.”
The passage of four years will likely take some of the edge off Palin’s sexiness. Why, she might even get a fleck or two of gray hair by then. But she may find some other obstacles to the White House other than being too darn hot.
via Taegan Goddard