Want to get ahead in life: It's in your face, not your head

Past event — 5 February 2015

Kühne Logistics University
Grosser Grasbrook 17, 20457 Hamburg

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Prof. John Antonakis


University of Lausanne


Research has shown that naïve adults can predict election outcomes on the basis of facial competence; such results have even been replicated using very young children (Antonakis & Dalgas, 2009). We extend these findings in a variety of conditions where naïve raters are exposed only to candidate photographs. In Study 1 university students (n = 334), whether informed or not of candidate incumbent status, prospectively predicted state government elections in the Swiss canton of Bern when rating the competence, intelligence, and leadership of 16 candidates. Study 2 was a very unique context--elections for the president and member at large (n = 98 candidates) of a prestigious psychological association--where voters are should more expert and should be relatively immune to decision-biasing mechanisms as compared to naïve voters in other contexts. Adults and children (n = 727, 52.8% were 12 years or less) playing at shop were able to predict voting outcomes when hiring a new manager; however, these results were only present for the elections where voters had been provided with pictures of candidates in the voting material. For elections without pictures election results depended on the publication records of the candidates. Using a business setting, in Study 3, naïve university students (n = 35) rated practicing managers (n = 107) using only their photographs; student ratings of the managers (on a leadership composite) predicted the salaries and hierarchical ranks of the managers (while controlling for the actual intelligence of the managers). Interestingly, student ratings of the personality and intelligence of the managers was unrelated to the actual personality and intelligence of the managers.

About the Presenter

John Antonakis is Professor of Organizational Behaviour in the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Professor Antonakis’ research is currently focused on predictors and outcomes of leadership, leadership development, psychometrics, as well as on research methods.  He has published over 30 journal articles in journals such as in Science, Psychological Science, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management, and Harvard Business Review, among many others; he has also published three books and 20 book chapters and has presented his research at dozens of conferences. He has received about 2 million Swiss Francs in funding for his research. Prof. Antonakis is Associate Editor of The Leadership Quarterly and Organizational Research Methods, and is on the editorial boards of many other top journals in management and applied psychology. His research is regularly quoted in the press and various media outlets.

More info about Prof. John Antonakis