NCBI ROFL: The general age of leadership: older-looking presidential candidates win elections during war.

By ncbi rofl | May 28, 2012 7:00 pm

Figure 2. Age congruent and incongruent McCain- and Obama-like faces.

“As nation-state leaders age they increasingly engage in inter-state militarized disputes yet in industrialized societies a steady decrease in testosterone associated with aging is observed – which suggests a decrease in dominance behavior. The current paper points out that from modern societies to Old World monkeys increasing both in age and social status encourages dominant strategies to maintain acquired rank. Moreover, it is argued this consistency has shaped an implicit prototype causing followers to associate older age with dominance leadership. It is shown that (i) faces of older leaders are preferred during intergroup conflict and (ii) morphing U.S. Presidential candidates to appear older or younger has an overriding effect on actual election outcomes. This indicates that democratic voting can be systematically adjusted by activating innate biases. These findings appear to create a new line of research regarding the biology of leadership and contextual cues of age.”

Bonus excerpt from the main text:
“The results from Experiment 2 provide evidence for the overall value and relevance of older age cues for leadership during intergroup war. For instance, even if participants made a connection between the morphed faces and actual candidates, the findings indicate that it did not influence the overall results of the mock elections – which one might expect if participants were merely voting for their actual preferred presidential candidate. Instead, they voted for the older candidate. This strongly suggests that McCain would have had (and future older candidates will have) an increased chance of securing leadership by making the threat of intergroup conflict the most salient situational concern in the minds of the voters – perhaps something McCain did not consistently do relative to other factors (for an overview of the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections see [22] and for an agent-based model incorporating actual polling data see [23]).”

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  • Ceps Weston

    The main point mentioned here is the decline in testosterone effects aging. Stress is a beast and stress is known to increase aging too. In my opinion this actually should scare most regular people because I read somewhere that our generation has less testosterone than the last generation and it’s declining even more!

    As an aside if anyone’s interested in increasing their testosterone through food I listed 10 great foods to raise it like dark chocolate (yep dark chocolate!) on

    Imagine if the presidents ate more dark chocolate huh? They’d probably be more mellowed out haha


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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