Health at the ballot box: disease threat does not predict attractiveness preference in British politicians
2016 (English)In: Royal Society Open Science, ISSN 2052-3068, E-ISSN 2046-2069, Vol. 3, 160049Article in journal (Refereed) Published
According to disease avoidance theory, selective pressures have shaped adaptive behaviours to avoid people who might transmit infections. Such behavioural immune defence strategies may have social and societal consequences. Attractiveness is perceived as a heuristic cue of good health, and the relative importance of attractiveness is predicted to increase during high disease threat. Here, we investigated whether politicians' attractiveness is more important for electoral success when disease threat is high, in an effort to replicate earlier findings from the USA. We performed a cross-sectional study of 484 members of the House of Commons from England and Wales. Publicly available sexiness ratings (median 5883 ratings/politician) were regressed on measures of disease burden, operationalized as infant mortality, life expectancy and self-rated health. Infant mortality in parliamentary constituencies did not significantly predict sexiness of elected members of parliament (p = 0.08), nor did life expectancy (p = 0.06), nor self-rated health (p = 0.55). Subsample analyses failed to provide further support for the hypothesis. In conclusion, an attractive leader effect was not amplified by disease threat in the UK and these results did not replicate those of earlier studies from the USA concerning the relationship between attractiveness, disease threat and voting preference.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 3, 160049
disease avoidance, behavioural immune system, disease threat, self-rated health, attractiveness, voting behaviour
Medical and Health Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128750DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160049Local ID: P-3333OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-128750DiVA: diva2:916564