Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally in the Rodeo Arena at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden, Colorado on Oct. 29, 2016.
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
March 21, 2019 4:55 AM EDT

As the candidate pool for the 2020 U.S. presidential election gets increasingly crowded, one researcher may have some helpful advice for contenders. A ground-breaking study released in Japan this week concludes that political candidates who smile more get more votes.

Masahiko Asano, a professor at Takushoku University in Tokyo, used facial-recognition technology to analyze the campaign posters of 6,000 Japanese electoral candidates to assign them a smile-rating, according to the Japan Times. He then cross-referenced the rating with the results of six Japanese elections between 1980 and 2017 to determine if a politician’s smile affected the candidate’s success rate.

“In the situation that many candidates from various political parties are running, it’s very likely that how they look influences voting decisions,” Asano said, according to the Times.

Asano’s research joins the ranks of a number weird and wacky studies on politician likability, including reports that prettier and skinnier candidates often win elections.

Another analysis has determined that victories by local sports teams in the days leading up to an election might help incumbents get re-elected.

Yet another study found that people are most likely to cast votes for candidates their favorite newscasters like, and one researcher contends that former President Barack Obama’s canine-friend Bo Obama may have carried him in the 2012 election.

At least 15 candidates have thrown their hat into the ring for the Democratic seat in next year’s U.S. presidential election. With the competition fierce, candidates who need all the help they can get may do well to heed Asano’s advice.

Just don’t call it obvious.

More Must-Read Stories From TIME

Write to Amy Gunia at

You May Also Like