Gender and Justification in Political Scandal

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Scandals are an unfortunate, but important, part of the political world. We examine how citizen perceptions of politicians involved in scandals are conditional upon two important factors: the politician’s gender and their decision to provide a justification for the scandal. Using experimental evidence, we find that justification of a scandal increases perceptions of competence for politicians, regardless of gender, but only increases perceptions of likability for women. We find, additionally, that the effect of gender is conditional on political ideology: liberals generally feel more positive toward a woman involved in a scandal, while no difference emerges for conservatives.