Another cog in the wheel known as the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to combat the Extreme Left-Wing Media.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Smart Talk and Girly Talk on the Campaign Trail

Here is another post-mortem on the 2004 presidential election. This one examines how the candidates for president and vice president were perceived based on their verbal communication.
Specifically, they rated each candidate's use of language along six dimensions: cognitive complexity (marked by sophisticated sentence structure and word choice); femininity (use of words and speech patterns favored by women); depression (use of words that are markers for depression or known "indicators of suicidality"); age (preference for words favored by young or old people); presidentiality (speech patterns and frequently occurring words favored by presidents since FDR in their speeches); and honesty (based on analyses of samples of truthful and deceptive language).

Cheney easily sounded the smartest of the four, while Edwards and Bush favored the least sophisticated language patterns, Slatcher and his colleagues report in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Research in Personality. When it came to sounding presidential, both Bush and his running mate scored considerably higher than Kerry or Edwards. Bush was the oldest-sounding candidate. Edwards also was the most likely to use feminine speech patterns and "female" words (Bush was a close second), while Cheney sounded most like a man's man.
While I'd prefer that all voters have a good understanding of the issues and candidates positions, I realize that isn't the case. A good number of voters go more on gut instincts about whether the candidates seem presidential. Both parties would do well to examine candidates in the primary process with an eye on how they will come across to voters. People may vote for someone who doesn't seem presidential for a lesser office, but most voters want an adult in the White House especially in a time of war or national crisis.


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