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Non verbal behavior of politicians

Markus Koppensteiner


When forming impressions about others people are influenced by the appearance and the nonverbal behavior of a person. Hence, speakers are not only judged by their ability to recite a brilliantly written speech, but also by nonverbal cues such as their physiognomic features, their facial expressions and gestures. These cues are either difficult to change or largely performed without conscious control. Consequently, creating a favorable impression is a difficult task and might be coupled to individual differences in presenting oneself on a behavioral level.

In previous studies in which we turned the body movements of politicians into animated stick figures found such individual differences. Observers who watched the stick figure movies were able to relate variations in body motion to different personality traits. The results obtained are preliminary to some extent and a broader empirical basis is needed to underpin the signal value of the patterns detected.
For this reason the current project will be aimed to examine how the behavioral stream's motion cues is related to other types of nonverbal features and how different communication channels affect judgments of a speaker's personality, competence and trustworthiness.

Social judgments based on the appearance and the nonverbal behavior of a person can have far reaching consequences. Knowing more about these processes will help to explain how people make their choices. Charismatic personalities might be influential and act with the best of intentions, but this influence can also be used for personal goals only. Some politicians are able to evoke strong emotional reactions in their audience that cannot be turned off by verbal arguments. However, with a better understanding of the underlying nonverbal communication processes this would hit us not so unprepared

Koppensteiner, M., Grammer, K. (2010). Motion patterns in political speech and their influence on personality ratings. Journal of Research in Personality, 44, 374-379.

Koppensteiner, M. (2011). Perceiving personality in simple motion cues.
Journal of Research in Personality, 45, 358-363.

Koppensteiner, M., Grammer, K. (2011). Body movements of male and female speakers and their influence on perceptions of personality, Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 743-747.

Koppensteiner, M. (2013). Motion cues that make an impression: Predicting perceived personality by minimal motion information. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 1137-1143.



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Austrian Science Funds Project P25262-G16


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