Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

"Person-centeredness" refers to how empathetic and warm a person's communication style is. Although the role of person-centeredness has been documented in various areas concerning interpersonal relations, person-centeredness has not been explored in the political realm. This project investigated how person-centered communications can influence impressions and evaluations of political candidates. In the first study, person-centered (PC) messages were shown to impact candidate trait ratings. Candidates using low PC messages were associated with more instrumental traits but fewer socio-emotional traits, while high PC candidates were assumed to have more socio-emotional traits but fewer instrumental traits. Similar results were found when participants rated a candidate's ability to handle socio-emotional and instrumental issues. With regard to global attitudes and voting likelihood, high PC candidates were preferred over low, however this PC effect was moderated by the candidate's gender, with female candidates showing a stronger PC effect than males. Study 2 investigated whether the PC effects shown in Study 1 would weaken or reverse in certain situations, specifically under conditions of threat where high PC candidates may be less desirable compared to low. Study 2 also explored whether individual differences within participants, namely political conservatism and authoritarianism, would moderate the PC effect. Overall results are discussed in terms of the benefits and costs of using PC messages and gender differences within politics.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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