A new study reports interesting findings on the correlation between smiling and vote turnout. Masahiko Asano, a professor at Tokyo’s Takushoku University, analysed the smiles of election candidates and compared the data with the number of votes they got.
Professor Asano gathered around 6,000 campaign posters and analysed the smiles of the candidates using an advanced facial recognition system developed by Omron Corporation. The system also took into consideration the candidate’s facial expressions such as how widely they open their eyes and mouths and other micro-expression like creases that formed around their eyes.
The candidates themselves selected their photo headshots to be used in the official campaign posters. Asano’s study noted that “the campaign photos in the Japanese national elections provide an excellent representation of the facial displays they wished to present to voters in their eﬀorts to obtain district seats.”
Asano’s research spanned six election periods in Japan’s House of Representatives. Results from the study concluded that candidates who smiled got more votes.
However, the researchers added that they are in the process of analysing more data in order to “examine to what degree a smile favorably affects the share of votes won,” according to the report by the Japan Times.
This is not the first study to focus on a candidate’s smile and its correlation to votes. Stanford professor and psychologist Jeanne Tsai used affect theories to analyse the way political leaders smile can reveal much more about their culture and the emotions they want people to feel.
Tsai and a team of researchers hypothesized that politicians display their culture’s “ideal affect” through the way they present themselves. The US, as specified in the research, culturally valued excitement while East Asian nations such as Japan valued calmness. Thus, US politicians displayed bigger and wider grins while East Asian politicians were more reserved.
Tsai’s research also found that US politicians smiled more even though they lost elections or ranked low in polls.
So maybe before campaign period starts, potential candidates and election hopefuls might want to consider paying a visit to their local dentist first.
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