Deception in Speeches of Candidates for Public Office
Royal Military College of Canada
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 48
Keywords: political communication, election, campaign, speech, deception, singular value decomposition
JEL Classification: D72
Date posted: January 13, 2011