Email 9.8.2015 Maarten Keuleman:
First off, the big picture. We’d like you to demonstrate some of your research techniques and theoretical insights for our readers by ‘predicting’ the (possible) outcome of the US presidential election. Of course, we’d need a rough guess: which candidate will be elected for both sides during the primaries (Feb-July)? And who will be the next president of the USA?
Perhaps more importantly, we’d challenge you to make 5-10 testable (!) predictions. ‘Candidate X is going to surprise everyone’. ‘Candidate Y will get poor electoral results’. ‘The Republican candidate will be taller than the Democrat’. ‘Mrs Clinton will lose when pitted against a tall male’. ‘None of the female candidates will make it to the final elections’. Stuff like that!
I’m still looking for a Dutch scholarly ‘US-watcher’ from history or politics to do exactly the same. And we’ll see where it takes us…
I intend to make public the predictions one year before election day (November 8th!) in our science supplement. And of course, we’ll evaluate and declare a ‘winner’ in the end – though I’d like to stress that this is more for fun, since I don’t expect any clear-cut results. The end result will be some nice articles about your work on leadership in the best and biggest quality newspaper of our country!
So step 1 was just to get a feel for how people thought about these candidates. 
The rest I'll go over in a working paper. 
We made the front page!
Along the way I also developed the horror that we named "The Clump"
Which of course was also featured prominently in several papers.
NB - All rights belong to the papers themselves, will take down immediately on request)
[Article November 7, 2015 by Maarten Keulemans - Excuse my translation] 
Grabo, a stylishly-dressed and well-coiffed American who is finishing his PhD project on the subject of charisma, opens his laptop and flips through some random passport photos in quick flashes. Narrow and wide faces, big and small forequarters, thin and thick - the variation is huge. "But look at the presidential candidates," he announced. There are pictures of Presidential candidates alongside. Click, click, click: you'll see it right away. Whether they are Republican or Democrat, come from the south or from the north: the shape of the faces is much more similar. Generally attractive, symmetrical, males with a solid jaw, female more oval shaped, etc.. "That suggests that selection is in progress and there may a kind of ceiling effect where faces at the top levels (especially in the States) aren’t varying as much as your average person" says Grabo.
Next, Grabo opens a program that blends different faces together - 'morphing' In jargon. On the one hand, President Barack Obama. On the other hand, the Republican Mitt Romney, his rival in 2008 and 2012. "Have to look," says Grabo, and he slides the laptop across the table, images morphing back and forth from Obama to Romney and Romney back to Obama. "It might seem fairly surprising but once you control for the way the photos are taken, oftentimes the shape of their faces does not differ as much as you might expect.

Not all the same. Just theorizing that they should be more similar than the population average.

Finally the results were in:
[November 9, 2016 - Pardon my translation] 
'Our stone age brains have chosen.' This is how professor Evolutionary Psychology of Mark van Vugt (VU) reacts to Donald Trump's victory in the race for the presidency. A year ago, Van Vugt's research group had already established that Trump, when one of the many candidates, was a good contender for the presidency. The man has 'all the outer features of a leader', according to Van Vugt.
"As a human I have a great hangover," says Van Vugt, who has n his department "many liberal Americans". "But as a scientist I say: we are political animals. And animals, you have to take that literally. People base their choices on their leaders. And that feeling gives us a strong preference for male leaders, all over the world. "
The leadership theory that the psychologists investigate assume that people partly vote on their instincts, without being aware of it. When threatening from outside, one will tend to tough, male leaders; If internal problems in the group are on the rise, women have the advantage, as stereotype converters and bridge builders.When Van Vugt and Grabo a year ago, at the request of De Volkskrant, analyzed the candidate's features, Trump strongly scored "gorilla-like" features: wide jaw, small eyes, long, heavy voice.
The battle for Clinton, they predicted in September, could be if her reliability was undermined - for example, through a new email affair. "All studies show that we judge women as trustworthy. But if there is information that shows that the woman in question is unreliable, that benefit goes away. "That's what Clinton could have blamed," he thinks.
Last year, De Volkskrant launched a playful bet between Van Vugt and the research group of professor Bertjan Verbeek, professor of Radboud University. As a politicologist, Verbeek does not see the individuals, but the political-social force game around the election. For example, Verbeek estimated that Bernie Sanders would stay in the race for longer than expected. But if the bet has a winner, that's 'Team van Vugt', acknowledges Verbeek.

You may also like

Back to Top