People rely on the facial appearance of political candidates when voting. Here, we examine whether the perceived competence, trustworthiness, and attractiveness of male Italian mayoral candidates (n = 150) predict their electoral success. Building on situational leadership theory, we also examine whether associations between apparent traits and electoral success are moderated by contextual factors. Specifically, we test whether trustworthy-looking politicians are more successful in Southern Italy where political corruption is a more salient issue. Across three preregistered studies (N = 470), we find that attractive-looking candidates were more successful. Perceived competence and trustworthiness were not consistently associated with electoral success. Moreover, we do not find evidence that regional variation in corruption moderates the success of trustworthy-looking politicians.
- trait impressions