Each participant was then shown a photograph of the “target person” — a member of the opposite sex who had previously been rated as “moderately attractive.” Alongside the image were a series of adjectives describing the person, including “friendly” and “smart.”
For about one-third of participants, the person was also labeled “an Obama supporter.” Another third saw a version in which he or she was labeled “a Romney supporter,” while the final third was given no information on the person’s political leanings.
Participants then rated the person’s looks on a seven-point scale from “extremely attractive” to “extremely unattractive.” The results suggest the news that someone belongs to the other political party greatly dampens our appreciation for their looks.
When political affiliation went unmentioned, “Democratic and Republican males found the female target equally attractive,” the researchers report. “Likewise, female Democrats and Republicans found the male target equally attractive. Yet by injecting politics into the mix of considerations, we found that Democrats and Republicans judged the target persons differently.”