Skip to main content

Political leadership, a quasi-experimental study of Peruvian voters’ emotional reaction and visual attention to political humor

Abstract

Political humor is a wise communicative strategy for politicians to use. However, previous research has not linked politicians’ use of political humor with voter’s emotional reaction and visual attention. Two experiments were conducted using facial expression analysis and eye-tracking technology to record the emotional reaction and visual attention of participants while watching one of the two presidential debates broadcast during the second round of the 2016 presidential election campaign in Peru. Results showed that voters’ educational level, candidates’ facial expressions while expressing the political humor, the type of camera shot displayed and the debate’s audience laughs influence voter’s positive emotional reaction and visual attention to instances of political humor.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Notes

  1. 1.

    We did not analyze the influence of participants’ gender because there is no evidence of gender differences concerning reactions to political humor (Bippus, 2007). Moreover, we did not analyze voter’s political preference or partisanship because, first, Bippus (2007) found that voter’s partisanship did not affect the perceived effectiveness of the humor. Second, given the multi-party Peruvian electoral system, Peruvian voters’ partisanship is a volatile sociodemographic characteristic.

  2. 2.

    None of the coders were compensated for their time and they were not attached to the research project because of their minor contribution to the entire project.

References

  1. Anderson, R., & Klofstad, C. (2012). Preference for Leaders with Masculine Voices Holds in the Case of Feminine Leadership Roles. Plos One 7(12).

  2. Attardo, S., Eisterhold, J., Hay, J., et al. (2003). Multimodal markers of irony and sarcasm. Humor, 16(2), 243–260.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Baum, M. A. (2005). Talking the vote: Why presidential candidates hit the talk show circuit. American Journal of Political Science, 49, 213–234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Becerra, M. G. (2016). El voto emocional. Un análisis del rol de las emociones en el comportamiento político del elector peruano. Bachelor’s Thesis. Available in http://repositorio.pucp.edu.pe/index/handle/123456789/54905

  5. Bippus, A. (2007). Factors predicting the perceived effectiveness of politicians' use of humor during a debate. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, 20, 105–121.

  6. Bucy, E. (2016). The Look of Losing, Then and Now: Nixon, Obama, and Nonverbal Indicators of Opportunity Lost. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(14), 1772–1798.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bucy, E., & Bradley, S. (2003). Presidential expressions and viewer emotion: counter empathic responses to televised leader displays. Social Science Information 43(1): 59–94; 040689.

  8. Cao, X. (2008). Political comedy shows and knowledge about primary campaigns: The moderating effects of age and education. Mass Communication and Society, 11(1), 43–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Carpenter, D. M., Webster, M. J., & Bowman, C. K. (2019). White House wit: How presidents use humor as a leadership tool. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 49(1), 23–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Crawford, C. B. (1999). Analysis of humor in the 1992 presidential debates. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 88, 417–420.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Davis, J. L., Love, T. P., & Killen, G. (2018). Seriously funny: The political work of humor on social media. New Media & Society, 20(10), 3898–3916.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Doumbouya, R. L. (2017). Analyse des émotions dans un jeu vidéo. Magister thesis, Université de Montréal.

  13. Dumitrescu, D. (2016). Nonverbal communication in politics: A review of research developments, 2005–2015. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(14), 1656–1675.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Eisterhold, J., Attardo, S., & Boxer, D. (2006). Reactions to irony in discourse: Evidence for the least disruption principle. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(8), 1239–1256.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Elenbaas, M., & De Vreese, C. H. (2008). The effects of strategic news on political cynicism and vote choice among young voters. Journal of Communication, 58(3), 550–567.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Flamson, T., & Barrett, H. C. (2008). The encryption theory of humor: A knowledge-based mechanism of honest signaling. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 6(4), 261–281.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Graham, C., & Kane, C. (1998). Opportunistic government or sustaining reform? Electoral trends and public-expenditure patterns in Peru, 1990–1995. Latin American Research Review, 33(1), 67–104.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Grebelsky-Lichtman, T. (2015). The Role of Verbal and Nonverbal Behavior in Televised Political Debates. Journal of Political Marketing.

  19. Gruner, C. R. (1967). Effect of humor on speaker ethos and audience information gain. Journal of Communication, 17(3), 228–233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Harrison, Z., & Bucy, E. (2016). When style obscures substance: Visual attention to display appropriateness in the 2012 presidential debates. Communication Monographs.

  21. Heiss, R., Schmuck, D., & Matthes, J. (2019). What drives interaction in political actors’ Facebook posts? Profile and content predictors of user engagement and political actors’ reactions. Information, Communication & Society, 22(10), 1497–1513.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. IPSOS. (2016). Opinión Data - May 29, 2016, La Favorita. Retrieved from https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/publication/2016-05/Opinion%20Data%20Mayo%20IV%202016.pdf

  23. Keller, T. R., & Kleinen-von Königslöw, K. (2018). Pseudo-discursive, mobilizing, emotional, and entertaining: identifying four successful communication styles of political actors on social media during the 2015 Swiss national elections. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 15(4), 358–377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Kendon, A. (1967). Some functions of gaze-direction in social interaction. Acta psychologica, 26, 22–63.

  25. Kendon, A., & Cook, M. (1969). The consistency of gaze patterns in social interaction. British Journal of Psychology, 60(4), 481–494.

  26. Klofstad, C., Anderson, R., & Nowicki, S. (2015). Perceptions of Competence, Strength, and Age Influence Voters to Select Leaders with Lower-Pitched Voices. Plos One.

  27. Klofstad, C., Anderson, R., & Peters, S. (2012). Sounds like a winner: voice pitch influences perception of leadership capacity in both men and women. Proceedings of the royal society, 279, 2698–2704.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Klofstad, C. A. (2016). Candidate voice pitch influences election outcomes. Political Psychology, 37(5), 725–738.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Koppensteiner, M., Stephan, P., & Jäschke, J. (2015). From body motion to cheers: Speakers’ body movements as predictors of applause. Personality and Individual Differences, 74, 182–185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kulkarni, A. (2017). Internet meme and Political Discourse: A study on the impact of internet meme as a tool in communicating political satire. Journal of Content, Community & Communication Amity School of Communication, 6.

  31. Lautsen, L., & Bang, M. (2015). Winning Faces Vary by Ideology: Nonverbal Source Cues Influence election and communication success in politics. Political Communication, 00, 1–24.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Lee, H., & Kwak, N. (2014). The affect effect of political satire: Sarcastic humor, negative emotions, and political participation. Mass Communication and Society, 17(3), 307–328.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. López-Meri, A., Marcos-García, S., & Casero-Ripollés, A. (2017). What do politicians do on Twitter? Functions and communication strategies in the Spanish electoral campaign of 2016. El profesional de la información, 26(5), 795–804.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Madestam, J., & Falkman, L. L. (2017). Rhetorical construction of political leadership in social media. Journal of Organizational Change Management.

  35. Maurer, M. (2016). Nonverbal Influence During Televised Debates: Integrating CRM in Experimental Channel Studies. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(14), 1799–1815.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. McHugh, M. L. (2012). Interrater reliability: the kappa statistic. Biochemia medica: Biochemia medica, 22(3), 276–282.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Mileti, A., Guido, G., & Prete, M. I. (2016). Nanomarketing: a new frontier for neuromarketing. Psychology & Marketing, 33(8), 664–674.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Nagel, F., Maurer, M., & Reinemann, C. (2012). Is There a Visual Dominance in Political Communication? How Verbal, Visual, and Vocal Communication Shape Viewers’ Impressions of Political Candidates. Journal of communication 2012.

  39. Nave, N. N., Shifman, L., & Tenenboim-Weinblatt, K. (2018). Talking it personally: Features of successful political posts on Facebook. Social Media+ Society, 4(3), 2056305118784771.

  40. Nuolijärvi, P., & Tiittula, L. (2011). Irony in political television debates. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(2), 572–587.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. ONPE. (2016). segunda elección presidencial 2016: resultados presidenciales. Accessed August 2019, https://www.web.onpe.gob.pe/modElecciones/elecciones/elecciones2016/PRP2V2016/Resultados-Ubigeo-Presidencial.html#posicion

  42. Ortigueira-Sánchez, L. C., & Cárdenas-Egúsquiza, A. L. (2019). Rhetorical strategies and emotions in political marketing management. Academia Revista Latinoamericana de Administración.

  43. Panagopoulos, C. (2008). The calculus of voting in compulsory voting systems. Political Behavior, 30(4), 455–467.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Pal, J. (2017). Studying political communication on Twitter: the case for small data. Current opinion in behavioral sciences, 18, 97–102.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Peifer, J. T., & Holbert, R. L. (2013). Developing a systematic assessment of humor in the context of the 2012 US general election debates. Argumentation and Advocacy, 49(4), 286–300.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Provine, R. R. (1992). Contagious laughter: Laughter is a sufficient stimulus for laughs and smiles. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 30(1), 1–4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Provine, R. R. (2016). Laughter as a scientific problem: An adventure in sidewalk neuroscience. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 524(8), 1532–1539.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Rhea, D. M. (2011). There they go again: The use of humor in presidential debates 1960–2008. Argumentation and Advocacy, 49, 115–131.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Ruch, W., McGhee, P. E., & Hehl, F. J. (1990). Age differences in the enjoyment of incongruity-resolution and nonsense humor during adulthood. Psychology and aging, 5(3), 348.

  50. Saks, J., Compton, J., Hopkins, A., et al. (2016). Dialed In: Continuous Response Measures in Televised Political Debates and Their Effect on Viewers. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 60:2: 231–247.

  51. Sánchez-Sibony, O. (2012). The 2011 presidential election in Peru: a thorny moral and political dilemma. Contemporary Politics, 18(1), 109–126.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Stewart, P. (2010). Presidential laugh lines: Candidate display behavior and audience laughter 2008 debates. Politics and the life sciences, 29(02), 55–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Stewart, P., & FordDowe, P. (2013). Interpreting President Barack Obama’s Facial Displays of Emotion: Revisting the Dartmouth Group. Political Psychology 34 (3).

  54. Stewart, P., Bucy, E., & Mehu, M. (2015). Strengthening bonds and connecting with followers A biobehavioral inventory of political smiles. Politics and the Life Science, 34(1), 73–92.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Stewart, P., Wallet, B., & Schubert, J. (2009). Presidential speechmaking style: Emotional response to micro-expressions of facial affect. Motivation and Emotion, 33, 125–135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Stewart, P. A. (2011). The influence of self-and other-deprecatory humor on presidential candidate evaluation during the 2008 US election. Social Science Information, 50(2), 201–222.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Stewart, P. A., Eubanks, A. D., Dye, R. G., et al. (2017). Visual Presentation Style 2: Influences on Perceptions of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Based on Visual Presentation Style During the Third 2016 Presidential Debate. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(5), 545–557.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Stewart, P. A., Eubanks, A. D., & Miller, J. (2016). “Please clap”: Applause, laughter, and booing during the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates. PS: Political Science & Politics, 49(4), 696–700.

  59. Sülflow, M., & Maurer, M. (2019). The Power of Smiling. How Politicians’ Displays of Happiness Affect Viewers’ Gaze Behavior and Political Judgments. In Visual Political Communication (pp. 207–224). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

  60. Tigue, C., Borak, D., O’Connor, J., et al. (2012). Voice pitch influences voting behavior. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 210–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Weber, M., & Quiring, O. (2017). Is It Really That Funny? Laughter, Emotional Contagion, and Heuristic Processing During Shared Media Use. Media Psychology 1–23.

  62. Wells, C., Van Thomme, J., Maurer, P., Hanna, A., Pevehouse, J., Shah, D. V., & Bucy, E. (2016). Coproduction or cooptation? Real-time spin and social media response during the 2012 French and US presidential debates. French Politics, 14(2), 206–233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Luis Camilo Ortigueira-Sánchez.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ortigueira-Sánchez, L.C., Cárdenas-Egúsquiza, A.L. Political leadership, a quasi-experimental study of Peruvian voters’ emotional reaction and visual attention to political humor. Int Rev Public Nonprofit Mark (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12208-021-00293-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Political humor
  • Eye-tracking
  • Voter emotions
  • Nonverbal behavior
  • Presidential campaign
  • Peru
  • Presidential candidates