A Surprising Thing Happens When Presidential Candidates Use Emotional Language

Angry, inflammatory rhetoric is the bread and butter of Donald Trump’s speeches, which are full of language that’s arguably less presidential than any presidential candidate in recent history.

Many Republicans have expressed concern that Trump’s language, particularly when it comes to racial issues, is damaging the party. But new research suggests that Trump’s emotionally-charged language may be precisely what makes his supporters see him as worthy of the White House.

The Ohio State University study, which is slated for publication in September in the journal Presidential Studies Quarterly, finds that emotional appeals makes a candidate appear more presidential and trustworthy to the public — but only during times of economic hardship and uncertainty.

In times of economic stability, on the other hand, voters prefer a candidate to exercise restraint in their language, David Clementson, a Ph.D. candidate at the university and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post.

“My study indicated that if you’re speaking to the times, you’ll be seen as more trustworthy,” he said. “If you use low-intensity language in stable circumstances, you’re more trustworthy. Conversely, if you use high-intensity language in exigent circumstances, you’re more trustworthy.”

If you’re speaking to the times, you’ll be seen as more trustworthy.”
David Clementson, Ph.D. candidate at Ohio State University

The findings seem to shed light on the rise of not only Donald Trump — who has drawn supporters with insults, hateful words and emotional appeals to “make America great again” — but also Bernie Sanders, who invokes fired-up language to rally his supporters around issues like racial and income inequality.

“Even though Donald Trump is on one extreme partisan end of the spectrum and Bernie Sanders is on the opposite, there are a lot of similarities with those two appearing to gain momentum,” Clementson said. “They’re on these opposite ends —> Read More