Project OnderbuikNL

In the summer of 2016, during Lowlands (music and performing arts festival), we conducted experiments measuring physiological responses to politics. We presented participants with short videos expressing left-wing and right-wing viewpoints on topics like immigration, inequality, and climate. Throughout the experiment, we tracked heartbeat, skin conductance, and facial electromyography. Following this, we expanded the experiment and visited events such as TT Assen (a biker event), EO Jongerendag (an Evangelical rock festival), and the Media Museum.

Start of the project

Our project ran from 2016 to 2022. OnderbuikNL was a follow-up study of Hot Politics Lab at Lowlands. For OnderbuikNL, we received financial backing from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO) and logistical support from ‘De Kennis van Nu,’ a TV show on NTR, a Dutch public-service broadcaster. The latter also produced a documentary about OnderbuikNL.

Goal of the project

Emotions seem to play an important role in politics. From global warming to the way immigrants are treated: many citizens claim to be afraid, angry or sad. But how do these emotions impact political choices? Our research focused on analyzing how people react emotionally to political messages. We did this by tracking the arousal (with skin conductance) and the direction (with facial electromyography) of the emotional responses to these political messages. In addition, we analyzed whether these physiological responses influence attitudes after the experiment.

Current status

We’ve completed our research. You can read about the results here: Affective responses to Political Rhetoric.

Researchers on this project

Assistents on the project: Cas Woudstra, Denise van de Wetering, Emke de Vries, Judith Meijer, Ming Boyer and Myrthe Willems.

Bert Bakker
Asssociate Professor for Good Research Practices at the University of Amsterdam

Matthijs Rooduijn
Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam

Gijs Schumacher
Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam

Watch the experiment at Lowlands

How to measure people’s gut feelings about politics? Watch how we conducted an experiment at Lowlands.

Publications on project OnderbuikNL

Malte Lüken, Kody Moodley, Eva Viviani, Christian Pipal & Gijs Schumacher (2024). MEXCA - A Simple and Robust Pipeline for Capturing Emotion Expressions in Faces, Vocalization, and Speech.
Gijs Schumacher, Bert N. Bakker, Matthijs Rooduijn, & Maaike D. Homan (2021). Politiek: Zweten, fronsen en walgen. Sociologie Magazine.
Bert N. Bakker & Gijs Schumacher (2024). Using measures of psychophysiological and neural activity to advance understanding of psychological processes in politics. Handbook of Innovations in Political Psychology, edited by Busby, Karpowitz and Wong.
Maaike D. Homan (2024). Citizens’ affective, cognitive and behavioral responses to the emotional displays of politicians. PhD Dissertation
Isabella Rebasso (2023). Feeling Within Reason: How Appraisals Shape Emotional Responses to Politics. PhD Dissertation
Christian Pipal (2024). Blueprints and fingerprints Politicians' use of emotional appeals in European democracies. Phd Dissertation
Christian Pipal, Bert N. Bakker, Gijs Schumacher & Mariken A. C. G. van der Velden (2024). Tone in politics is not systematically related to macro trends, ideology, or experience. Scientific Reports
Svenja Schäfer, Isabella Rebasso, Ming Manuel Boyer, and Anna Maria Planitzer (2023). Can We Counteract Hate? Effects of Online Hate Speech and Counter Speech on the Perception of Social Groups. Communication Research
Gijs Schumacher, Maaike D. Homan, Isabella Rebasso, Neil Fasching, Bert N. Bakker & Matthijs Rooduijn (2024). Establishing the validity and robustness of facial electromyography measures for political science. Politics and the Life Sciences
Christian Pipal, Hyunjin Song, Hajo G Boomgaarden (2023). If you have choices, why not choose (and share) all of them? A multiverse approach to understanding news engagement on social media.
Christian Baden, Christian Pipal, Martijn Schoonvelde & Mariken van der Velden (2022). Three gaps in computational text analysis methods for social sciences: A research agenda.Communication Methods and Measures
Maaike D. Homan, Gijs Schumacher & Bert N. Bakker (2023). Facing emotional politicians: Do emotional displays of politicians evoke mimicry and emotional contagion? Emotion
Gijs Schumacher, Matthijs Rooduijn & Bert N. Bakker (2022). Hot Populism? Affective responses to antiestablishment Rhetoric. Political Psychology
Bert Bakker, Gijs Schumacher & Matthijs Rooduijn (2020). Hot Politics? Affective responses to political rhetoric. American Political Science Review
Bert N. Bakker, Jaidka, K., Dorr, T., Fasching, N., & Lelkes, Y. (accepted for publication). Questionable and open research practices among quantitative communication researchers . Journal of Communication.
Bert N. Bakker, Lelkes, Y., & Malka, A. (online first) Reconsidering the relationship between personality and political preferences American Political Science Review.
Maaike Homan (2020). Alexander Todorov's Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions. Politics and Life Sciences.
Bert Bakker, Gijs Schumacher & Maaike Homan (2020). Yikes. Are we disgusted by politicians? Politics and Life Sciences , 39(2), 135-153.
Bert Bakker, Gijs Schumacher & Matthijs Rooduijn (2021). The populist appeal. Personality and anti-establishment communication. The Journal of Politics, 83(2), 589-601.
Bert Bakker, Yphtach Lelkes & Ariel Malka (2020). Understanding partisan cue receptivity: Tests from predictions from the bounded rationality and expressive utility perspectives . The Journal of Politics, 82(3), 1061-1077.
Bert Bakker, Gijs Schumacher, Claire Gothreau & Kevin Arceneaux (2020). Conservatives and Liberals have Similar Physiological Responses to Threats . Nature Human Behaviour, 4, 613-621
Martijn Schoonvelde, Gijs Schumacher & Bert Bakker (2019). Friends With Text as Data Benefits: Assessing and Extending the Use of Automated Text Analysis in Political Science and Political Psychology. Journal of Social and Political Psychology.
Denise Traber, Martijn Schoonvelde & Gijs Schumacher (2019) Errors have been made, others will be blamed: Issue engagement and blame shifting in prime minister speeches during the economic crisis in Europe. European Journal of Political Research.
Matthijs Rooduijn (2019) How to study populism and adjacent topics? A plea for both more and less focus . European Journal of Political Research.
Gijs Schumacher & Ingo Zettler (2019). House of Cards or West Wing? Self-reported HEXACO Traits of Danish Politicians . Personality and Individual Differences.
Martijn Schoonvelde, Anna Brosius, Gijs Schumacher & Bert Bakker (2019). Liberals Lecture, Conservatives Communicate: analyzing complexity and ideology in 381,475 speeches . PLoS One.
Bert Bakker & Yphtach Lelkes (2018) Selling Ourselves Short? How Abbreviated Measures of Personality Change the Way We Think about Personality and Politics . Journal of Politics.
Matthijs Rooduijn & Brian Burgoon (2018) The Paradox of Wellbeing: Do Unfavorable Socioeconomic and Sociocultural Contexts Deepen or Dampen Radical Left and Right Voting Among the Less Well-Off? Comparative Political Studies.
Erik de Vries, Martijn Schoonvelde & Gijs Schumacher (2018). No Longer Lost in Translation: Evidence that Google Translate Works for Comparative Bag-of-Words Text Applications Political Analysis.
Matthijs Rooduijn, Brian Burgoon, Erika van Elsas & Herman van de Werfhorst (2017). Radical Distinction: Support for Radical Left and Radical Right Parties in Europe . European Union Politics.
Mariken van der Velden, Gijs Schumacher & Barbara Vis (2017). Living in the Past or Living in the Future? Analyzing Parties’ Platform Change In Between Elections,The Netherlands 1997–2014. Political Communication.
Bert Bakker & Claes de Vreese (2016). Personality and European Union attitudes: Relationships across European Union attitude dimensions . European Union Politics.
Bert Bakker, Matthijs Rooduijn, & Gijs Schumacher (2016). The Psychological Roots of Populist Voting: Evidence from the United States, the Netherlands and Germany. European Journal of Political Research.
Bert Bakker, Robert Klemmensen, Asbjørn Nørgaard & Gijs Schumacher (2016). Stay Loyal or Exit the Party? How Openness to Experience and Extraversion Explain Vote Switching Political Psychology.
Bert Bakker (2016). Personality traits, income and economic ideology . Political Psychology.
Gijs Schumacher & Kees van Kersbergen (2016). Do mainstream parties adapt to the welfare chauvinism of populist parties? Party Politics.
Bert Bakker, David Hopmann, & Mikael Persson (2015). Personality traits and party identification over time. European Journal of Political Research.
Gijs Schumacher, Marc van de Wardt, Barbara Vis & Michael Baggesen Klitgaard (2015). How Aspiration to Office Conditions the Impact of Government Participation on Party Platform Change . American Journal of Political Science.
Gijs Schumacher & Matthijs Rooduijn (2013). Sympathy for the 'Devil'? Voting for Populists in the 2006 and 2010 Dutch General Elections. , Electoral Studies.
Gijs Schumacher, Catherine de Vries & Barbara Vis (2013). Why do Parties change Position? Party organization and environmental incentives Journal of Politics.

More about the project

Learn more about project OnderbuikNL through our selection of external publications.


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