Have you ever looked at someone and guessed his or her political party correctly without knowing them? Well, according to a recent U.S. Senate oversight report, “Twenty Questions,” a National Science Foundation (NSF) study has scientifically proven that it is possible to identify a person’s political party based on looks.
The study, conducted by the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), was supported by a $50,000 NSF grant. Researchers gathered to analyze the faces of the U.S. House of Representatives to see if Republicans and Democrats “look different.” The results were eye opening.
According to the study, “female politicians with stereotypically feminine facial features are more likely to be Republican than Democrat, and the correlation increases the more conservative the lawmaker’s voting record.”
That’s right, the UCLA taxpayer funded study concluded that women who have more feminine facial features are typically Republican, while women with less feminine features are typically Democrat. Kerri Johnson, the study’s senior author and assistant professor of communication studies and psychology at UCLA, expressed that the findings could be called the “Michele Bachmann effect.”
While the study showed more feminine women caucusing with Republicans, the opposite was true for men. “The faces of male Republicans, on average, scored as less masculine than the faces of their Democratic counterparts.”
The study was conducted through the “FaceGen Modeler,” which is a database of faces of hundreds of men and women. UCLA scientists then imported faces of the 111th Congress into the database and compared each representative’s face “to the norm on more than 100 subtle dimensions, including the shape of the jaw, the location of eyebrows, the placement of cheek bones, the shape of eyes, the contour of the forehead, the fullness of the lips and the distance between such features as the bottom of the nose and the top of the lip. Armed with these dimensions, the researchers were able to arrive at an amalgamated score assessing the extent to which the face exhibited characteristics common to men or to women.”
Upon placing the faces into the FaceGen Modeler, researchers found that “Republican women were highly feminine. Indeed, compared with all other politicians, Republican women exhibited the highest degree of sex-typicality. While this specific pattern was expected, the relative lack of masculinity among Republican men was not. We predicted that Republicans would be more sex-typical than Democrats, on average, but this was not the case.”
Bad news if you’re the stereotypical Republican male, but not to worry, UCLA concluded that “it may be unnecessary for Republican men to exhibit masculinity through their appearance” because “their policy advocacy and leadership roles may already confer these characteristics on them.”
The report questions Congress’s actions directing funding to various agencies. At a time when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is begging for more funding to combat the Zika virus, Congress is funding projects that are frivolous and downright wasteful.
The release of “Twenty Questions” coincides with legislation recently introduced that would require the Administration to develop a system that eliminates duplicative research and would require agencies that fund research to post a summary, funding details, and information about papers written for every unclassified study paid for with taxpayers’ money. Transparency leads to accountability. Let’s hope Congress has the common sense to give this legislation a fair look.