‘Corruption face’: Trying to predict politicians’ misconduct

An undated image of William Marcy "Boss" Tweed after a photograph by Mathew Brady. The politician, congressman, and leader of New York City's Tammany Hall lived from 1823 to 1878. (AP Photo)
AP Photo
William M. “Boss” Tweed, the politician, congressman, and leader of New York City’s Tammany Hall.

Can you tell if someone is a lying, thieving bastard just by looking at him? Maybe. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology showed people pictures of politicians they’re unfamiliar with, and they made better-than-chance judgments about whether the pols had been convicted of corruption. How did they do it? They may have been picking up on the wideness of the politicians’ faces. As ScienceDaily points out, previous research shows that wider faces are associated with more aggressive behavior among men. It’s not that wide-faced men are inherently nastier and more dishonest. It’s just that people view them that way, and may be more likely to offer them bribes as a result.