A new study indicates that attractive people are more likely to be conservative than liberal, as better treatment makes them blind to the need for left-wing policies.

"There is good reason to believe that individuals' physical attractiveness may alter their political values and world views," the study suggests.

Authors Rolfe Daus Peterson (Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, USA) and Carl L Palmer, Illinois State University, Bloomington, USA) attribute the trend to the 'halo effect', a form of cognitive bias by which specific positive traits influence a person's view of other people.

This effect means that attractive people have better social skills and are more popular, competent and intelligent.

Previous research shows that good-looking people are generally treated better, achieve higher social status and earn more money, influencing them to see the world as a just place.

This creates a blind spot which stops attractive people from seeing the need for government intervention, a central element of left-wing policy.

Explaining their findings to IBTimes UK, Peterson said that the best way to describe the results is that "if you take two individuals that share similar characteristics like age, income, and education but differ in attractiveness, our results show that higher attractiveness correlates with being more efficacious and leaning more conservative than the similar individual who is less attractive."

"This is not deterministic; all attractive people are not conservative and all unattractive people are not liberals," Peterson continued. "Attractiveness gives a person a small push in the conservative direction."

The researchers took data from the 1972, 1974 and 1976 American National Studies surveys which asked people to evaluate the appearance of others. These results were compared with the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study which focused on the physical characteristics of over 10,000 high school students who were rated by others on their level of attractiveness.

"Implications for democratic behaviour"

The findings could have "implications for democratic behavior", Peterson argued, given that good-looking people report being more politically powerful. Given the greater social influence of attractive people, better-looking people "may hold political sway over others in their social networks, regardless of their actual levels of effective political knowledge".

"If attractive individuals are also more efficacious and more likely to persuade others, we may have further concerns for the quality of opinion leadership and participation," they write.

"Those who are not blessed with good looks will be less likely to feel empowered, to participate in politics, to seek redress for grievances, or to exercise their political rights."

Peterson said, "I find the efficacy effects in our paper more compelling because of the implications for democratic behavior. Attractiveness biases have been described as being like death and taxes in their unavoidable effects, and surely these filter into our politics as well."

If conservatives are more attractive than their liberal or left-wing opponents, right-wing parties may end up with an advantage at the ballot box.

"A host of variables influence elections, and especially in close races, even a substantively small factor may swing political outcomes," the study says. "Recent research suggests that conservative-leaning candidates in the US and Europe are more physically attractive on average than their left-leaning counterparts, which under some conditions leads to an electoral advantage."

Peterson told IBTimes UK, "It is difficult to disentangle the multitude of factors that influence our political attitudes and identities. Our goal was to start a conversation about the way these attractiveness effects in social life may shape our political lives."

Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 Tom Pennington/Getty Images