Deception in Speeches of Candidates for Public Office

48 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2011

Date Written: January 12, 2011


The contribution of this article is twofold: the adaptation and application of models of deception from psychology, combined with data-mining techniques, to the text of speeches given by candidates in the 2008 U.S. presidential election; and the observation of both short-term and medium-term differences in the levels of deception. The method of analysis is fully automated and requires no human coding, and so can be applied to many other domains in a straightforward way. The authors posit explanations for the observed variation in terms of a dynamic tension between the goals of campaigns at each moment in time, for example gaps between their view of the candidate’s persona and the persona expected for the position; and the difficulties of crafting and sustaining a persona, for example, the cognitive cost and the need for apparent continuity with past actions and perceptions. The changes in the resulting balance provide a new channel by which to understand the drivers of political campaigning, a channel that is hard to manipulate because its markers are created subconsciously.

Keywords: political communication, election, campaign, speech, deception, singular value decomposition

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Leuprecht, Christian, Deception in Speeches of Candidates for Public Office (January 12, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Christian Leuprecht (Contact Author)

Royal Military College of Canada ( email )

Department of Political Science and Economics
P.O. Box 17,000, Station Forces
Kingston, ON K7K 7B4
6135416000 ext. 6428 (Phone)
6135416733 (Fax)


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