Effects of gender and verbal aggression on perceptions of U.S. political speakers


Two experiments tested whether male and female political speakers in the United States are judged differently when they use verbal attacks. Participants read eight short excerpts of political speeches, half of which contained character and competence attacks (the other half without such attacks), and half of which were attributed to a female speaker (the other half a male speaker), and rated these in terms of agreement with the message, and perceptions of credibility, appropriateness, and aggressiveness. In both experiments, messages containing verbally aggressive attacks resulted in less perceived credibility and appropriateness, and these negative effects were consistent regardless of the speaker's gender. In Experiment 1, women tended to penalize aggressive speakers more so than did men, suggesting the men are less sensitive to verbal aggression in their evaluations of political speakers. However, women tended to perceive non-aggressive female speakers as more aggressive than male speakers. Most of these interaction effects were not replicated in Experiment 2.

Publication Title

Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict