Document Type

Honors Project On-Campus Access Only


Previous research has shown that good looks, particularly being deemed as attractive or competent-looking, can provide an electoral advantage. There is also evidence to support the notion that more dominant looks are associated with military success as cadets are more likely to rise in the ranks early in their career if they are more dominant-looking. To date, there has been little research into the effect of looks on political leadership success in a non democratic setting. This project explores the effect of facial attractiveness and dominance on the political success of leaders after leading a successful coup d’état. We examine a comprehensive set of coup d'états from 1946 to 2013. Attractiveness and dominance ratings are created via surveys, as in previous research, but with a novel way to control for the potential bias arising from respondent characteristics. Defining political success as taking executive power, longer time-to-office exit, and avoiding constraint on executive power, we find that both dominant and attractive facial features provide distinct advantages for leaders.



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