Smiles, turnout, candidates, and the winning of district seats

Masahiko Asano, Dennis P. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Research has shown that a candidate's appearance affects the support he or she receives in elections. We extend this research in this article in three ways. First, we examine this relationship further in a non-Western context using 2015 local elections in Japan. Next, we show that this positive relationship is more complicated depending on the characteristics of the election under consideration. Specifically, we distinguished election contests by levels of turnout and found that despite a positive relationship between turnout and the extent to which smiling increases a candidate's support levels, the marginal increase in support declined as turnout increased and, in fact, became negative when some high-turnout threshold was crossed. Finally, we show that the number of candidates competing in an election is negatively related to the impact of a candidate smiling, confirming research conducted by the Dartmouth Group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-31
Number of pages16
JournalPolitics and the Life Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018


  • Facial displays
  • candidate support
  • ethology
  • turnout


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