Why do better-looking members of congress receive more television coverage?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on psychological research on the attractiveness effect, this study investigated the role of legislators' physical attractiveness in shaping the amount of their news coverage. The physical attractiveness of members of the first session of the 110th U.S. Congress was evaluated by non-American college students. Computerized searches in news transcripts archived in Lexis-Nexis were used to determine the number of times each of the representatives appeared on national TV news, radio, and newspapers. Multivariate analysis, controlling for a host of predictors of coverage (e.g., seniority, state size, number of bills sponsored by members, number of press releases sponsored, members' ideology and extremity, and assignment to a prestigious committee), demonstrated that televised news coverage was associated with the measure of physical attractiveness. Possible mechanisms underlying the association were empirically explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-463
Number of pages24
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Einav Jerochim and Dana Markovitch Elfasi for their dedicated research assistance. We thank Bruce Hardy for providing access to data, R. Brian Law for his help with the committee prestige measure, and the editor for his helpful comments. This research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 551/08).


  • Congress
  • news coverage
  • physical attractiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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