Dirty looks: politicians' facial appearance and unethical behaviour

Rockey, J., Smith, H. ORCID: 0000-0003-2712-5527 and Flowe, H., 2021. Dirty looks: politicians' facial appearance and unethical behaviour. Leadership Quarterly: 101561. ISSN 1048-9843

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Over half of British Members of Parliament (MPs) were found to have overclaimed on their expenses in the 2009 expenses scandal. We conduct an exploratory analysis of whether the facial appearance of the MPs (N=636) is associated with overclaiming, as research has found that facial appearance is correlated with behavioural outcomes. Participants (N=4,727) previously unfamiliar with the MPs made trait ratings (physically attractive, charismatic, criminal, competent, financially greedy, honest, likeable, organized, physically dominant, and sincere) of each politician’s face. The latent factor structure indicated the traits could be grouped into the three broad factors identified in previous work: criminality (the traits criminal, financially greedy, and physically dominant), attractiveness (the traits physically attractive, charismatic, honest, likeable, and sincere), and competence (competent and organized). We found more attractive MPs tended to overclaim less, as did more criminal-looking MPs. But more competent-appearing politicians tended to overclaim more. We relate these findings to theories of moral licensing and moral consistency and discuss the limitations and context-specific nature of our findings.

Item Type: Journal article
Alternative Title: Politician appearance and unethical behaviour [running head]
Publication Title: Leadership Quarterly
Creators: Rockey, J., Smith, H. and Flowe, H.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: 20 September 2021
ISSN: 1048-9843
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 25 Jun 2021 12:59
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2023 03:00
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/43235

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