Gender Differences in Political Speeches

While there is enormous diversity in communication style within each gender group, in this post I want to focus on an interesting phenomenon that emerges in Political Communication between genders and in particular on rhetorical devices connected to verbal "aggressiveness".

For the analysis we considered a corpus of roughly 3.600 speeches. These are transcripts of political speeches tagged with audience reactions, such as APPLAUSE or LAUGHTER. In our model, different audience reactions can reveal different persuasive strategies used by the speaker. The "Negative-Focus" tag group is of specific interest here; it includes phenomena such as BOOING. This group of audience reactions indicates a persuasive attempt that sets a negative focus in the audience, where the negative focus is set towards the object of the speech and not on the speaker themselves (e.g. S: “Do we want more taxes?” A: "No!"). This group of tags is interesting since it signal a more "aggressive" kind of rhetoric, where the speaker brings the audience to explicitly demonstrate their negative feelings. For the analysis we use the concept of "Tag-Density", a measure that indicates how often audience reaction tags appear in the speeches under scrutiny.

And here are the unequivocal results: while all other tag densities are almost the same, for the negative-focus tags we have a density 60 times higher for male speakers.

Interestingly, similar results are found for the Democrats/Conservatives partition, with the rhetoric of the former being much less "aggressive" than the rhetoric of the latter.  

Further details in: Guerini, M., Giampiccolo, D., Moretti, G., Sprugnoli, R., & Strapparava, C. (2013). The New Release of CORPS: A Corpus of Political Speeches Annotated with Audience Reactions. In Multimodal Communication in Political Speech. Shaping Minds and Social Action. Poggi, I., D’Errico, F., Vincze, L., & Vinciarelli, A. (eds.).  pp. 86-98. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

PhD in Information and Communication Technologies. Personal website.

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