Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Non-verbal cues as a test of gender and race bias in politics: the Italian case

  • Shanto Iyengar (a1) and Mauro Barisione (a2)

Abstract

Gender and race biases persist in western democracies, with male and white candidates still being the norm. Voters may be more inclined to express sexist and racist attitudes in countries with a traditionally male-dominated political system and a majority-white population. As sexism and racism are notoriously difficult to document, and because many people are unaware of their biases toward social groups, we bypass conventional survey measurement and observe voters’ willingness to support candidates whose physical features have been manipulated to make them appear more prototypically feminine or non-white. We implemented this approach in the context of the 2013 Italian election, by presenting a national sample of Italian voters with pictures of male and female parliamentary candidates – both unknown and well known. Overall, we found no main effects of gender or race bias in political judgment. For Italian voters, party cues are by far the most powerful indicators of out-group status, and therefore the strongest predictors of candidate perception and support. This result may be of particular interest to other political contexts characterized by strong partisan polarization.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Abramowitz, A.I. and Saunders, K.L. (2008), Is polarization a myth?Journal of Politics, 70, 542555.
Almond, G. and Verba, S. (1963), The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations, Boston: Little Brown.
Balbo, L. and Manconi, L. (1992), I razzismi reali, Milano: Feltrinelli.
Banaji, M. and Heiphetz, L. (2010), ‘Attitudes’, in D. Gilbert and S. Fiske (eds), Handbook of Social Psychology, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, pp. 353393.
Banfield, E. (1958), The Moral Basis of a Backward Society, Glencoe: The Free Press.
Barański, Z. and Vinall, S. (eds) (1991), Women and Italy: Essays on Gender, Culture and History, Basingstoke: Macmillan Press.
Barisione, M. (2006), L’immagine del leader: quanto conta per gli elettori? Bologna: Il Mulino.
Barisione, M. (2015), ‘Political leadership’, in G. Mazzoleni (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Political Communication, Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell.
Barisione, M., Catellani, P. and Garzia, D. (2014), ‘Tra Facebook e i Tg: esposizione mediale e percezione dei leader nella campagna elettorale italiana del 2013’, Comunicazione Politica 15(1): 187210.
Barker, L.J., Jones, M. and Tate, K. (1999), African Americans and the American Political System, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bellucci, P. and Segatti, P. (eds) (2010), Votare in Italia: 1968–2008: dall’appartenenza alla scelta, Bologna: Il Mulino.
Benjamin, D. and Shapiro, J. (2009), ‘Thin-slice forecasts of gubernatorial elections’, The Review of Economics and Statistics 91: 523536.
Bertrand, M. and Mullainathan, S. (2004), ‘Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination’, American Economic Review 94: 9911013.
Blair, I., Judd, C. and Chapleau, C. (2004), ‘The influence of Afrocentric facial features in criminal sentencing’, Psychological Science 15: 674679.
Brambor, T., Clark, W.R. and Golder, M. (2006), ‘Understanding interaction models: improving empirical analyses’, Political Analysis 14(1): 6382.
Burgio, A. (ed.) (2000), Nel nome della razza. Il razzismo nella storia d’Italia, Bologna: Il Mulino.
Calise, M. (2000), Il partito personale, Laterza: Roma-Bari.
Canon, D.T. (1999), Race, Redistricting, and Representation: The Unintended Consequences of Black Majority Districts, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Carmines, E.G., Sniderman, P.M. and Easter, B.C. (2011), ‘On the meaning, measurement, and implications of racial resentment’, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 634: 98116.
Carpinella, C. and Johnson, K. (2013a), ‘Politics of the face: the role of sex-typicality in trait assessments of politicians’, Social Cognition 31: 770779.
Carpinella, C. and Johnson, K. (2013b), ‘Appearance-based politics: sex-typed facial cues communicate political party affiliation’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 49: 156160.
Caruso, E., Mead, N. and Balcetis, E. (2009), ‘Political partisanship influences perception of a biracial candidate’s skin tone’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106: 2016820173.
Chiao, J.Y., Bowman, N.E. and Gill, H. (2008), ‘The political gender gap: gender bias in facial inferences that predict voting behavior’, PLoS One, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003666.
Crosby, F., Bromley, S. and Saxe, L. (1980), ‘Recent unobtrusive studies of black and white discrimination and prejudice: a literature review’, Psychological Bulletin 87: 546563.
Eagly, A.H. and Mladenic, A. (1994), ‘Are people prejudiced against women? Some answers from research on attitudes, gender stereotypes, and judgments of competence’, European review of social psychology 5: 135.
Eberhardt, J., Davies, P., Purdie-Vaughns, V. and Johnson, S.L. (2006), ‘Looking deathworthy: perceived stereotypicality of black defendants predicts capital-sentencing outcomes’, Psychological Science 17: 383386.
Fiorina, M.P., Abrams, S.J. and Pope, J.C. (2005), Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America, New York: Pearson Longman.
Garzia, D. (2014), Personalization of Politics and Electoral Change, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Garzia, D. and Viotti, F. (2011), ‘Leaders, partisanship and voting behavior in Italy, 1990–2008’, Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 41(3): 411432.
Glenn, E. (2009), Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Glick, P. and Fiske, S. (1996), ‘The ambivalent sexism inventory: differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 70: 491512.
Greenwald, A.G., McGhee, D.E. and Schwartz, J.L.K. (1998), ‘Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: the implicit association test’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74: 14641480.
Greenwald, A., Tucker, C., Sriram, N., Bar-Anan, Y. and Nosek, B. (2009), ‘Implicit race attitudes predicted vote in the 2008 U.S. presidential election’, Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 9: 241253.
Griffin, J.D. and Newman, B. (2008), Minority Report: Evaluating Political Equality in America, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hehman, E., Carpinella, C., Johnson, K., Leitner, J. and Freeman, J. (2014), ‘Early processing of gendered facial cues predicts the electoral success of female politicians’, Social Psychological and Personality Science 5: 815824.
Herring, C., Keith, V. and Horton, H.D. (eds) (2004), Skin Deep: How Race and Complexion Matter in the ‘Color Blind’ Era, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hochschild, J.L. and Weaver, V. (2007), ‘The skin color paradox and the American racial order’, Social Forces 86: 643670.
Hovland, C.I., Harvey, O.J. and Sherif, M. (1957), ‘Assimilation and contrast effects in reactions to communication and attitude change’, The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 55(2): 244252.
Huddy, L. and Terkildsen, N. (1993), ‘Gender stereotypes and the perception of male and female candidates’, American Journal of Political Science 37: 119147.
ITANES (ed.) (2008), Il ritorno di Berlusconi, Bologna: Il Mulino.
Iyengar, S. (2011), ‘Laboratory experiments in political science’, in J.N. Druckman, D.P. Green, J.H. Kuklinski, and A. Lupia (eds), Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 73–88.
Iyengar, S., Sood, G. and Lelkes, Y. (2012), ‘Affect, not ideology a social identity perspective on polarization’, Public Opinion Quarterly 76(3): 405431.
Iyengar, S., Messing, S., Bailenson, J. and Hahn, K. (2010), ‘Do explicit racial cues influence candidate preference? The case of skin complexion in the 2008 campaign’. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the APSA, September 2–5, Washington, DC.
Johns, R. and Shephard, M. (2007), ‘Gender, candidate image and electoral preference’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 9: 434460.
Kinder, D.R. and Sears, D.O. (1981), ‘Prejudice and politics: symbolic racism versus racial threats to the good life’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 40: 414431.
King, D.C. and Matland, R.E. (2003), ‘Sex and the Grand Old Party: an experimental investigation of the effect of candidate sex on support for a Republican candidate’, American Politics Research 31: 595612.
King-Meadow, T. and Schaller, T.F. (2006), Devolution and Black State Legislators: Challenges and Choices in the 21st Century, Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
Koch, J.M. (2000), ‘Do citizens apply gender stereotypes to infer candidates’ ideological orientations?’, The Journal of Politics 62(2): 414429.
Kuklinski, J.H. (ed.) (2001), Citizens and Politics: Perspectives from Political Psychology, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lammers, J., Gordijn, E.H. and Otten, S. (2009), ‘Iron ladies, men of steel: the effects of gender stereotyping on the perception of male and female candidates are moderated by prototypicality’, European Journal of Social Psychology 39(2): 186195.
Levendusky, M. (2009), The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Became Republicans, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lodge, M., Steenbergen, M.R. and Brau, S. (1995), ‘The responsive voter: campaign information and the dynamics of candidate evaluation’, American Political Science Review 89(2): 309326.
Lublin, D. (1997), ‘The election of African Americans and Latinos to the US House of Representatives, 1972–1994’, American Politics Research 25(3): 269286.
Marcus, G.E. (2000), ‘Emotions in politics’, Annual Review of Political Science 3(1): 221250.
McConahay, J., Hardee, B. and Batts, V. (1981), ‘Has racism declined in America? It depends upon who is asking and what is asked’, Journal of Conflict Resolution 25: 563579.
McDermott, M. (1998), ‘Race and gender cues in low-information elections’, Political Research Quarterly 51: 895918.
Mo, C.H. (2014), ‘The consequences of explicit and implicit gender attitudes and candidate quality in the calculations of voters’, Political Behavior 37: 357395.
Mo, C.H. and Weiksner, G.M. (2009), ‘The sexist vote: results from a lab election experiment’. Paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Association 67th Annual National Conference, Chicago, April 22–25.
Nevid, J.S. and McClelland, N. (2010), ‘Measurement of implicit and explicit attitudes toward Barack Obama’, Psychology & Marketing 27: 9891000.
Nosek, B.A. and Smyth, F.L. (2007), ‘A multitrait-multimethod validation of the implicit association test: implicit and explicit attitudes are related but distinct constructs’, Experimental Psychology 54: 1429.
Olivola, C.Y. and Todorov, A. (2010), ‘Elected in 100 milliseconds: appearance-based trait inferences and voting’, Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 34: 83110.
Pew Research Center (2014), Political Polarization in the American Public, Washington DC: Pew Research Center.
Popkin, S. (1994), The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Prior, M. (2013), ‘Media and political polarization’, Annual Review of Political Science 16: 101127.
Putnam, R. (1993), Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Quillian, L. (1995), ‘Prejudice as a response to perceived group threat: population composition and anti-immigrant and racial prejudice in Europe’, American Sociological Review 60: 586611.
Sani, G. (1980), ‘The political culture of Italy: continuity and change’, in G. Almond and S. Verba (eds), The Civic Culture Revisited, Boston: Little Brown & Co, pp. 273324.
Sears, D.O. (1988), ‘Symbolic racism’, in D.O. Sears, P.A. Katz and D.A. Taylor (eds), Eliminating Racism: Profiles in Controversy, New York: Plenum Press, pp. 5384.
Sears, D.O. and Henry, P.J. (2003), ‘The origins of symbolic racism’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85: 259275.
Sherif, M. and Hovland, C.I. (1961), Social Judgment: Assimilation and Contrast Effects in Communication and Attitude Change, Oxford: Yale University Press.
Sniderman, P.M., Brody, R.A. and Tetlock, P.E. (1991), Reasoning and Choice: Explorations in Political Psychology, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Sniderman, P.M., Peri, P., De Figueiredo, R.J.P. and Piazza, T. (2002), The Outsider: Prejudice and Politics in Italy, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Spackman, B. (1996), Fascist Virilities: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Social Fantasy in Italy, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Stokes, D. (1992), ‘Valence politics’, in D. Kavanagh (ed.), Electoral Politics, Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 80100.
Swim, J., Aikin, K., Hall, W. and Hunter, B. (1995), ‘Sexism and racism: old-fashioned and modern prejudices’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 68: 199214.
Taber, C.S., Cann, D. and Kucsova, S. (2009), ‘The motivated processing of political arguments’, Political Behavior 31(2): 137155.
Todorov, A. and Uleman, J.S. (2003), ‘The efficiency of binding spontaneous trait inferences to actor’s faces’, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 39: 549562.
Todorov, A., Pakrashi, M. and Oosterhof, N.N. (2009), ‘Evaluating faces on trustworthiness after minimal time exposure’, Social Cognition 27: 813833.
Tougas, F., Brown, R., Beaton, A.M. and Joly, S. (1995), ‘Neosexism: Plus Ça Change, Plus C’est Pareil’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 21: 842849.
Vavreck, L. and Iyengar, S. (2013), ‘The future of political communication research: online panels and experimentation’, in R.Y., Shapiro and L.R., Jacobs (eds), The Oxford Handbook of American Public Opinion and the Media, Oxford: OUP.
Vezzoni, C. (2014), ‘Italian National Election Survey 2013: a further step in a consolidating tradition’, Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 1: 81108.
Virtanen, S.V. and Huddy, L. (1998), ‘Old-fashioned racism and new forms of racial prejudice’, The Journal of Politics 60: 311332.
Weaver, V.M. (2012), ‘The electoral consequences of skin color: the “hidden” side of race in politics’, Political Behavior 34: 159192.
Young, A.I., Ratner, K.G. and Fazio, R.H. (2014), ‘Political attitudes bias the mental representation of a presidential candidate’s face’, Psychological Science 25: 503551.
Zick, A., Pettigrew, T.F. and Wagner, U. (2008), ‘Ethnic prejudice and discrimination in Europe’, Journal of Social Issues 64(2): 233251.

Keywords

Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Iyengar and Barisione Dataset
Dataset

 Unknown

Non-verbal cues as a test of gender and race bias in politics: the Italian case

  • Shanto Iyengar (a1) and Mauro Barisione (a2)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed