The general age of leadership: Older-looking presidential candidates win elections during war

B.R. Spisak

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

As nation-state leaders age they increasingly engage in inter-state militarized disputes yet in industrialized societies a steady decrease in testosterone associated with aging is observed - which suggests a decrease in dominance behavior. The current paper points out that from modern societies to Old World monkeys increasing both in age and social status encourages dominant strategies to maintain acquired rank. Moreover, it is argued this consistency has shaped an implicit prototype causing followers to associate older age with dominance leadership. It is shown that (i) faces of older leaders are preferred during intergroup conflict and (ii) morphing U.S. Presidential candidates to appear older or younger has an overriding effect on actual election outcomes. This indicates that democratic voting can be systematically adjusted by activating innate biases. These findings appear to create a new line of research regarding the biology of leadership and contextual cues of age. © 2012 Spisak.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e36945
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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