Politicians communicate their policy positions, but also stories about their personal lives and their perspective on the world. In doing so, what will they say and how they will say it? How much emotion will they put in their words? How complicated will they make their sentences? By doing this politicians reveal something of their personality. In the Hot Politics Lab, we analyze all preceding questions, and aim to develop a model
that predicts what politicians will say (topic, position) and how they will say this. Are politicians strategic and will they tailor their messages to public opinion, or are politicians unable to adapt, and does personality explain their communication? We will find out.
You will find some of our preliminary findings in the publications, working papers and blogs mentioned below.
There is some evidence that liberal politicians use more complex language than conservative politicians. This evidence, however, is based on a specific set of speeches of US Congress members and UK members of Parliament. This raises the question whether the relationship between ideology and linguistic complexity is a more general phenomenon or specific to this small group of politicians. To address this question, this paper analyzes 381,609 speeches from five parliaments, from twelve European prime ministers, and from party congresses across time and across countries. Our results replicate and generalize these earlier findings: speakers from culturally liberal parties use more complex language than speakers from culturally conservative parties. Economic left-right differences, on the other hand, are not systematically linked to linguistic complexity.
Pdf version Appendix Blog Replication Materials
Jonathan Polk, Jan Rovny, Ryan Bakker, Erica Edwards, Liesbet Hooghe, Seth Jolly, Jelle Koedam, Filip Kostelka, Gary Marks, Gijs Schumacher, Marco Steenbergen, Milada Vachudova, Marko Zilovic (2017). Explaining the Salience of Anti-Elitism and Reducing Political Corruption for Political Parties in Europe with the 2014 Chapel Hill Expert Survey Data. Research & Politics 4, 1.