• It has come to our attention that some users may have been "banned" when they tried to change their passwords after the site was hacked due to a glitch in the old vBulletin software. This would have occurred around the end of February and does not apply after the site was converted to Xenforo. If you believe you were affected by this, please contact a staff member or use the Contact us link at the bottom of any forum page.

Any theories on effect of photos on voting slips?


belvoboy

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
108
I was wondering does anyone have any theories on the effect of having photos on the voting slips (not sure when this came in - seems fairly recent). Or anyone know any research in this area? i.e. what I mean is the sort of candidates that it might help or hinder.

Just curious. I have a wild theory but there may not be any basis for it but I'd be interested to see what others think?
 

Dera

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2003
Messages
6
the dept of govt in UCC (i think) are doing reserach on this issue for this years local elections.

whats you wild theory?
 

belvoboy

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
108
the dept of govt in UCC (i think) are doing reserach on this issue for this years local elections.

whats you wild theory?
That's interesting.

As I say, it's total speculation but here goes: When people are launching something, they often get a young attractive female model for the photo. This is based I think because in a newspaper or similar, people's attention will be drawn to an attractive model; I'm fairly sure this is true for males, I think for females as well although less sure of this. I remember reading some research where men will strain to see attractive female faces or something.

Anyway, I just wonder could this mean when one is faced with a poll paper, one's eyes would tend to look at attractive female faces; I'm not sure how much effect this would have on first preferences but further down, when looking up and down, one's eyes might navigate to young women for lower preferences over others????

I don't know how older women or men of different ages would fit in to this. Example, maybe an older woman might do particularly badly over a man where age mightn't matter???

Not sure how people of different races might fit into this as well, because of some people's prejudices?

I suspect also that what might be considered ugly people e.g. I know it's a generalisation, but an obese or severely obese person might not do as well with photos.


When thinking about this, a little experiment I thought of was to get together a group of hundreds of people (or larger??); draw up manifestos; have photos of different candidates and randomly assign a photo to a manifesto and see does it matter what the photo was.
This would have to be refined of course because it might simply be gender but this might be done by have a controlled group which had the exact same situation but without the photos (but where the names were obviously male and female).

Maybe different methods of presenting candidates on ballot papers could be researched to see which brings the least bias.

Of course, one could probably investigate other things that political parties might like e.g. would a smiling candidate help or one who doesn't smile; hairstyles; etc.
 

iceman

Member
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
43
or could it be plain and simple that it helps those who have reading and writing difficulties.
 

belvoboy

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
108
or could it be plain and simple that it helps those who have reading and writing difficulties.
I'm not saying it was done with any conspiracy in mind.
And, as you say, the current system helps such people.

I think it would be an interesting thing to study; if others don't, that's their business.
 

revereie

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 7, 2004
Messages
345
look to dept. of environ website for report ex Lansdowne Markewtign re this for last euro elections ....
 

belvoboy

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
108
(I edited this just to fix up the URL but for some reason everything at the end is now underlined like a link and when editing there is no preview facility so I'll just leave it!)

look to dept. of environ website for report ex Lansdowne Markewtign re this for last euro elections ....
Thanks very much, revereie.

For those that don't know, the website is
http://www.environ.ie


Skimming down the research, it seems interesting although didn't appear to analyse the sort of issues I mentioned (influence of appearance e.g. attractiveness/unattractiveness, gender, age, race, weight, etc). It does raise some issues I hadn't considered.

I just have an "amateur" interest in politics so didn't actually know that it was only used for the European elections.

I don't know where I stand on the use of photos - they seem like a good idea but I think they need to be investigated further as the potential for introducing bias in voter choice would seem to be an important issue.


Here are the last few (consecutive) comments which sort of summarises the findings.

• Secondly, there is evidence that photographs have the potential to influence the choice made by the voters. Any such influence is particularly serious in the light of the third consideration, which is that the recognition of candidates is biased in favour of certain kinds of candidates and against others.

• Finally, the use of photographs also introduces a bias in the electoral process in favour of candidate-criteria as opposed to party-criteria. In this, it accentuates what some believe to be an already undesirable emphasis on intra-party competition in the system.

• In the light of the above, it is recommended that very careful consideration be given to the matter before a decision is taken to make the use of photographs a permanent feature of European Parliament elections or, in particular, before deciding to extend their use to Dail elections.

• Unless the difficulties identified above can be overcome, the recommendation of this report would be that the use of photographs should not be extended and should be discontinued in the case of European Parliament elections. It should be emphasised that these recommendations are based on a limited experiment, limited especially in that European Parliament elections are in many ways untypical.

• Accordingly, a thorough review of the policy issues would probably require further research in the context of the next general election (this would not presuppose that photographs be actually included on the ballot paper for that election). In particular, the issues of candidate recognition and incumbency advantage may be very different, and not necessarily any less troubling, in the context of a Dail constituency.

• Research should also address the question of the possible use of party logos on the ballot paper as either a necessary balancing factor vis-à-vis candidate photographs or as an alternative to candidate photographs. Party logos may have the potential to solve a substantial part of the informational problems of those with reading difficulties while, at the same time being considerably less vulnerable to the difficulties that this research has identified in the case of photographs.


[Edited on 6/6/2004 by belvoboy]

[Edited on 6/6/2004 by belvoboy]
 

Dera

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2003
Messages
6
belvoboy, i think an interesting case study is with deirdre heney in DNC in 92. While she polled very high number fo first prefs her transfers were quitre poor and she reccived the least out of all the FF candiates and when they were in the count less than Md Dowell, Mc Grath, maher, amnd Bruton.

I actaully imagined that FF maight have taken the three seats as I thought that heney would get a lot of trransfers. She didn't. That said her first pref was good so maybe voters who 'fancied' her jsut went for her as their first pref.
 

belvoboy

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
108
belvoboy, i think an interesting case study is with deirdre heney in DNC in 92. While she polled very high number fo first prefs her transfers were quitre poor and she reccived the least out of all the FF candiates and when they were in the count less than Md Dowell, Mc Grath, maher, amnd Bruton.

I actaully imagined that FF maight have taken the three seats as I thought that heney would get a lot of trransfers. She didn't. That said her first pref was good so maybe voters who 'fancied' her jsut went for her as their first pref.
That's interesting, Dera. Some people really know their stuff on politics.ie (or at least have a lot of observations to draw on).

I suppose the point about that one is that that was before photos on the ballot; it would be interesting to study whether such an effect exists (i.e. candidates are voted for because people fancy them) and maybe even whether this effect was increased by having photos.

Of course, the opposite would also be interesting i.e. if people don't "fancy" somebody, is that a disadvantage and would this effect be heightened.

And then should politicians actually be running campaigns to make people fancy them!!??

I'm sure this could be over-stated and it mightn't be that big of a deal but I find the whole area of how ballot papers are presented and how they might affect voting patterns interesting.

Also am I right in assuming that the advice/findings from the study by Lansdowne Research poll which I mentioned above is being ignored and the same method that was used in 1999 is being used again now for the Euro elections? And if so, why is it being ignored? Does it suit the government to have the photos or there would be too much controversy if they didn't have them??
 

petronius

Member
Joined
May 12, 2004
Messages
84
Does the Photo on the ballot paper discriminate against ugly people getting elected?
Sadly not by the looks of the existing elected people!!
 

belvoboy

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
108
belvoboy said:
the dept of govt in UCC (i think) are doing reserach on this issue for this years local elections.

whats you wild theory?
That's interesting.

As I say, it's total speculation but here goes: When people are launching something, they often get a young attractive female model for the photo. This is based I think because in a newspaper or similar, people's attention will be drawn to an attractive model; I'm fairly sure this is true for males, I think for females as well although less sure of this. I remember reading some research where men will strain to see attractive female faces or something.

Anyway, I just wonder could this mean when one is faced with a poll paper, one's eyes would tend to look at attractive female faces; I'm not sure how much effect this would have on first preferences but further down, when looking up and down, one's eyes might navigate to young women for lower preferences over others????

I don't know how older women or men of different ages would fit in to this. Example, maybe an older woman might do particularly badly over a man where age mightn't matter???

Not sure how people of different races might fit into this as well, because of some people's prejudices?

I suspect also that what might be considered ugly people e.g. I know it's a generalisation, but an obese or severely obese person might not do as well with photos.


When thinking about this, a little experiment I thought of was to get together a group of hundreds of people (or larger??); draw up manifestos; have photos of different candidates and randomly assign a photo to a manifesto and see does it matter what the photo was.
This would have to be refined of course because it might simply be gender but this might be done by have a controlled group which had the exact same situation but without the photos (but where the names were obviously male and female).

Maybe different methods of presenting candidates on ballot papers could be researched to see which brings the least bias.

Of course, one could probably investigate other things that political parties might like e.g. would a smiling candidate help or one who doesn't smile; hairstyles; etc.
Look like this theory may not be as silly as some may have thought.

http://www.ucc.ie/opa/pr/PRFemaleVotes.html

"Old people are out, women are in! - 27 July 2004

Recent research by UCC into the impact of ballot paper photographs has shown that young female candidates perform better than all other candidates confirming a widely held opinion that elections are becoming ‘beauty contests’.."
 

TheBanned

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2004
Messages
96
petronius said:
Does the Photo on the ballot paper discriminate against ugly people getting elected?
Sadly not by the looks of the existing elected people!!
Fear not!
We can look forward to our politicians looking more and more like those personal injury solicitors in the golden pages.
Nicely coiffed, made up, soft focus with either a pensive concerned expression or a cheery smile, "and again that's great, once more lovely"
 

Shepherd

Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2004
Messages
76
I've read a book about political marketing by a former Tory PR boss who maintained that in the US, there were political consultants who turned down candidates for being too ugly.

Can't for the life of me remember the name of the book, I'm afraid.
 

Arnó

Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2005
Messages
28
Image does matter. The famous case of the Kennedy Nixon debate where everyone who watched the debate on t.v. felt that Kennedy won and the people who listened to the radio felt that Nixon won.

Image matters more I think for undecided voters. When unable to make up their mind they will go for the person who looks the part or they find something appealing about them.

The point you make about people voting for the attractive canditate I agree is valid but this would be just one of the reasons. Another would be that they see him as an 'ordinary guy/girl' just like them and then proceed to vote for him. So the photo would help certain canditates depending on the type of voters in their area.

But having said that we all know of many overweight, unattractive politicians. So I think it works to a degree and it depends alot on the society and their preocupation with image. We would find more well grommed politicians in the U.S. than we would find in a country where image wasn't as important.
 

Biffo

Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2004
Messages
79
I think ye are over anylasing slightly. Id be surprised if somebody who took the time to vote in a GE would actually find themselves mesmorised by a photo on the ballot paper. It probably would be a major issue if everybody was forced to vote, but people who take the time to vote would normally have a reason to vote for a particular candidate.
 

rockofcashel

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 23, 2005
Messages
7,956
Website
www.sinnfein.ie
There is definitely an image factor as regards photos on ballot papers, and indeed on posters. Some of the candidates in the local elections down my way, deliberately used older photographs of themselves (making them look younger). As a candidate myself, I was actually concious of the photograph on the ballot paper, as I was on election literature, to the extent that I had 6 different photographs done, in varying poses, smiling/unsmiling, wearing a jacket looking serious, jacket off looking cheery etc. I then put these photos in front of a group of about 20 people (non-party) who I was friendly with, and asked them to choose the photos. I was surprised by the results, as they picked photos I wouldn't have choosen.

As for posters, you definitely need to take care choosing them, as what might look a very nice photo in passport size, accentuates any odd characteristics when blown up to 4 foot by 2 foot. At a general election down here, a good small colour photo, when blown up and converted into black and white, came out as a terrible poster, where I'm not sure if it cost us votes, but was definitely the focus of negativity chatting to people at doors.

Another very important factor to consider when looking at transfers and transfer patterns is the place of a candidate on a ballot paper. Its in alphabetical order, and there has been research done, which shows that this favours people lower down in the alphabet (A-M) a lot more than N-Z. Part of the research found that a lot of people sub-conciously only vote for a number of candidates, maybe 3-4, with any degree of deliberateness. They then don't really care where there other transfers go to. A lot then tend to go back to the top of the page and fill in the boxes from top to bottom, favouring the names higher on the paper. Given that in multi-seat constituencies, many many candidates are not elected until after the 5th round, this tendency to vote from the top down favours the A-M candidates.

I wonder if a study on randomly printed ballot papers would bear this out ?
 

belvoboy

Active member
Joined
May 23, 2004
Messages
108
There is definitely an image factor as regards photos on ballot papers, and indeed on posters. Some of the candidates in the local elections down my way, deliberately used older photographs of themselves (making them look younger). As a candidate myself, I was actually concious of the photograph on the ballot paper, as I was on election literature, to the extent that I had 6 different photographs done, in varying poses, smiling/unsmiling, wearing a jacket looking serious, jacket off looking cheery etc. I then put these photos in front of a group of about 20 people (non-party) who I was friendly with, and asked them to choose the photos. I was surprised by the results, as they picked photos I wouldn't have choosen.
That's interesting.


Another very important factor to consider when looking at transfers and transfer patterns is the place of a candidate on a ballot paper. Its in alphabetical order, and there has been research done, which shows that this favours people lower down in the alphabet (A-M) a lot more than N-Z. Part of the research found that a lot of people sub-conciously only vote for a number of candidates, maybe 3-4, with any degree of deliberateness. They then don't really care where there other transfers go to. A lot then tend to go back to the top of the page and fill in the boxes from top to bottom, favouring the names higher on the paper. Given that in multi-seat constituencies, many many candidates are not elected until after the 5th round, this tendency to vote from the top down favours the A-M candidates.
Maybe it'll become like the Golden pages i.e. Ms. AAA, Mr. AA, etc.

I wonder if a study on randomly printed ballot papers would bear this out ?
Would be interesting to do.
The theory that the people who go to the ballot box would be less influenced by this could possibly also be tested e.g by comparing the real results to results of a random sample in some way
[maybe not ideal but take a sample of people who voted (might have to be a big percentage) and ask them to vote with the randomly printed ballot papers and compare the results]. Or with less important/mock elections, have one group with randomly printed ballot papers and one without.
Could make a topic for a thesis????
 

david

Active member
Joined
Feb 6, 2003
Messages
190
I personally don't like the idea of pix on the ballot papers. I think it confuses things. If you don't know what/who you're voting for, should you be voting at all?

As for helping less literate people, a simple A2-size poster on the wall with photos and names would suffice and be mucher cheaper.

So long as you have the name and the party/stance, what more do you want?
 

Mary Who

Active member
Joined
Apr 24, 2014
Messages
163
Any theories on effect of photos on voting slips?

Not only do photographs influence voters but also the candidates name and believe it or not the location of the polling station
 
Top