How competence and trustworthiness inferences made by voters in the centre of Italy predicts the North Italian political elections: the impact of the city size




political candidates’ faces, competence, trustworthiness, city size


Many recent studies show that election outcomes correlate with judgments based on the first impression of a candidate’s face. In our study, we showed the faces of 32 pairs of politicians from small and medium cities to 70 students, and we asked them to make judgments about competence and trustworthiness based on the candidates’ faces. As an initial hypothesis, we wanted to test if competence and trustworthiness inferences based only on an image of political candidate’s face, would have the same predictive power with reference to actual electoral outcomes. As a second hypothesis, we tested whether the predictive power of inferences based on candidate’s face varies according to the size of the city of the actual elections. Results show that ratings of trustworthiness and competence based on facial appearance predicted the electoral outcomes for cities with more than 15.000 habitants, but that electoral outcomes of small cities were less correlated with such inferences, especially as far as trustworthiness is concerned.