Study authors Sara Konrath, Josephine Au and Laura R. Ramsey examined these differences in face-ism by measuring the facial prominence of over 6, 500 male and female political figures in photographs from more than 25 different cultures. Facial prominence was determined by measuring the length of the head in a photograph (from the chin to the top of the head) and comparing it to the length of the body shown in the photograph.
The researchers then analyzed these face/body ratios by culture and found that women's bodies were more prominent in photographs from cultures in which women have more educational, professional, and political opportunities. Yes, male politicians have bigger heads in more
gender-equal cultures too. And less gender-equal cultures. The world is sexist.
"Being in a relatively egalitarian cultural context does not shield politicians from this face-ism bias; in fact, it exacerbates it," Konrath and Au said in a statement. "Understanding this double-bind is fundamental to understanding how societal pressures might shape the visual depictions of male and female leaders online, whether political or otherwise."
The authors claimed that stereotypes associated with each gender are more divergent in richer and more institutionally gender-equal cultures overall, and that these photographs are simply a visual representation of a deeply-ingrained, cultural concept.
"The face-ism bias is likely due to unconscious influences, so simply making politicians and their support staff aware of this bias and its negative implications for female politicians could reduce this bias."
Citation: Sara Konrath, Josephine Au, and Laura R. Ramsey,'Cultural Differences in Face-ism: Male Politicians Have Bigger Heads in More Gender-Equal Cultures', Psychology of Women Quarterly, doi: 10.1177/0361684312455317 (free to read)
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