Study Examines How Gender and Political Psychology Influence Voter Behavior

ditontoTessa Ditonto, an assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University, has published a study that examines how gender and political psychology can impact voting behavior.

In a series of experiments, Dr. Ditonto found that voters given profiles of men and woman who were portrayed as similarly competent, received the same level of voter support. But the results also showed that voters were more forgiving of men who were portrayed as incompetent than was the case for women who were shown as incompetent.

“The fact that women are more disadvantaged by negative information than are men is problematic,” states Dr. Ditonto. “Since information about political candidates is obtained in large part from the news media, this is a problem for women. Women candidates are often ‘trivialized’ in the way the media talks about them and unbiased portrayals of women as competent politicians are not easy to come by.”

Dr. Ditonto joined the faculty at Iowa State University in 2013. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she majored in political science and Spanish. She earned a Ph.D. in political science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The full study, “A High Bar or a Double Standard? Gender, Competence, and Information in Political Campaigns,” was published on the website of the journal Political Behavior. It may be accessed here.

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