Looking the Part: How Appearance and Media Coverage Affect Success in the Masculine World of Politics
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This thesis examines the role of appearance in candidate electability. particularly for women who entre the male-dominated political realm. It primarily studies the national political arena and inspects how the media influence the political discussion through appearance-based coverage. This thesis was mainly an analysis of recent political science and media studies literature as well as primary news and new media sources. The literature findings were supplemented by a study on the effect of outfit to public perceptions of candidates. This thesis combines the appearance-political research with the appearance-media research to present a holistic picture of the role of appearance in the political landscape and revealed the importance of media to appearance-based judgments. Research review revealed that split-second appearance-based character judgments of political candidates are indicative of actual election outcomes. particularly determinations of competence. Male faces are often rated as more competent than female faces, indicating a bias toward masculinity in political candidates. However. the study conducted for this thesis showed that female candidates may not be inherently at a ii iii disadvantage because of their femaleness, regardless of the femininity of their outfit. It also found that a suit does not necessarily make a candidate more electable. While the strength of inherent bias against female candidates is not conclusive, the media’s discussion of female candidate appearance disadvantages women vying for political office and discourages them from running.