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

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Gender Issues, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Huh.
    Are these the same folks who complained about derogatory references to how Hillary Clinton looked?

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    I’ll be the first to admit what a woman she is but I doubt she’ll be in the running next election. There are too many other, more qualified, candidates. Those others also lack the baggage she will bring even though they may have their own.

    I still think that like Joe the Plumber the fascination with her is a media creation more than a substantial Republican strategery. If I were a reporter I’d rather cover her than some others. I’d say uncover her but she’s married.

  3. DL says:

    Palin, unless she wants to end up as Secretary of State, ought not to try too hard to look like Hillary – My motto for her ‘

    “Stay Hot – not Squat!”

    And remember when you win the Whitehouse Sarah and it comes time to tell the left “I won”wink at the camera and just stick out your tongue at those liberals who can’t stand smart women who are hot, moral and competent.

  4. Eneils Bailey says:

    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.

    A gray hair or two on the head is better than Obama’s hemorrhoids in the the ass of freedom and liberty.

  5. Wayne says:

    Wonder if they think the same thing about Obama. Remember the shirtless photo many fawn over?

  6. John425 says:

    Why are Sarah Palin’s good looks a drawback and Obama’s inexperience a plus?

  7. Bithead says:

    Why are Sarah Palin’s good looks a drawback and Obama’s inexperience a plus?

    and

    Wonder if they think the same thing about Obama. Remember the shirtless photo many fawn over?

    Now there is an interesting juxtaposition. We were told by the democrats that syrup ill and was a joke, because of her inexperience . Anybody, it was reasoned, who look that good, could have a brain in their head. Yet, what do we see are the democrats, visa’vie’Obama? Mild beefcake to far over, and are you worried about the inexperience factor.

    Tell me again how the press isn’t in the Democrat Party’s hip pocket.

  8. Triumph says:

    Lets be clear–Palin ain’t “sexy.” Perhaps her Tammy Faye-style makeup job appealed to some Revlon excavation fetishists, but for anyone with taste in dames her look is pretty sleazy.

    Sure, I’d sleep with her if I had a couple of cocktails and there was no other decent merchandise around, but her look–when sober—is pretty weak.

    As J-Dawg says, this dame ain’t getting any younger. Broads like her tend to try to hang on to their sad-sack looks WAAY after their prime, so by 2012 she will be in Phyllis Diller, clownish territory.

    She will probably have a few more kids by then anyway–which ain’t going to help matters.

  9. tom p says:

    I’d say uncover her but she’s married.

    HA! I’m not sure I would care (tip o’ the hat to you Steve)

    A gray hair or two on the head is better than Obama’s hemorrhoids in the the ass of freedom and liberty.

    Well, after 8 yrs of Bush, I am running low of both “Just for Men” and “Preperation H”.

    So tell me EB, what has Obama done to the Constitution in 2 months that can possibly top Bush’s first 2 yrs?

  10. Alex Knapp says:

    I think that the methodology of this “study” leaves quite a bit to be desired.

    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.”

    I have a hunch that this was neither a statistically valid sample nor a decent methodology for measuring opinion.

  11. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Tri, Palin is more likely to shoot and gut you than to sleep with your ilk, you God’s gift to women you. Now for some information for those who want to blame Bush for todays ill. First Barney and Chris were instrumental in keeping Freddy and Fannie unregulated, encouraging bad loans. That was just a time bomb waiting to go off and hurt the economy. Remember it reach unprecedented high during the Bush administration. Finally, the coffin nail. Chuck (the Commie) Schumer. He, while on the senate banking committee, leaked confidential information that Indy Bank was in trouble. And here we are. A crisis made by democrats (lower case on purpose) to allow democrats (communists) to expand government intrusion to levels never seen before and a communist trained President ready to take advantage. Ever wonder if that secure Blackberry is for private communication with Soros and Ayers?

  12. anjin-san says:

    Democrat Party’s

    nobody parrots rush quite like bitsy…

  13. kth says:

    Oh I think this study is onto something, though I’m no Palin fan, and though I’m not quite clear on how Angelina Jolie figures into anything. In every walk of life women are judged on their appearance more than men. But it isn’t simply about pretty versus not pretty; rather, all kinds of finely-grained inferences are drawn from the way women look, that men aren’t subject to (at least to nowhere near that degree).

  14. Jody says:

    They talked about this studt on the O’Reilly Show!