How the Linguistic Styles of Donald Trump and Joe Biden Reflect Different Forms of Power

Faculty/Professorship: Personality Psychology and Psychological Assessment  
Author(s): Körner, Robert  ; Overbeck, Jennifer R.; Körner, Erik; Schütz, Astrid  
Title of the Journal: Journal of Language and Social Psychology
ISSN: 1552-6526, 0261-927X
Publisher Information: Thousand Oaks, Kalifornien, USA : Sage Publications
Year of publication: 2022
Volume: 41
Issue: 7
Pages: 631–658
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1177/0261927X221085309
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-irb-537883
Can theories of power be used to explain differences in the linguistic styles of Donald Trump and Joe Biden? We argue that the two candidates possess and use different forms of power—and that this is associated with typical language patterns. Based on their personal history, news reports, and empirical studies, we expect that Trump’s approach to power is characterized by coercive power forms and Biden’s by collaborative power forms. Using several LIWC categories and the moral foundations dictionary, we analyzed over 500 speeches and 15,000 tweets made during the 2020 election battle. Biden’s speeches can be described as analytical and frequently relating to moral values, whereas Trump’s speeches were characterized by a positive emotional tone. In tweets, Biden used more social words and words related to virtue, honesty, and achievement than Trump did. Trump’s coercive power and Biden’s collaborative power were more observable in tweets than speeches, which may reflect the fact that tweets are more spontaneous than speeches.
GND Keywords: Persönlichkeitspsychologie; Linguistik; Sprachstil; Dominanz; Macht
Keywords: power, dominance, prestige, LIWC, Trump, Biden
DDC Classification: 150 Psychology  
RVK Classification: CR 7000   
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
Release Date: 14. April 2022
Project: Open-Access-Publikationskosten 2022 - 2024