New Publication: Political Debates have Different Impact on Men vs. Women

GSU’s Dr. Sarah Allen Gershon and PhD candidate Kristina LaPlant found that men and women experience different emotional reactions during political debates, based on evidence from the first presidential debate of 2016.

In their study published by the Journal of Political Behavior, Gershon and LaPlant – along with their co-authors Kim L. Fridkin and Jillian Courey – focused on the role of gender in shaping people’s emotional responses to candidate messaging during the debate. They used a controlled within-subjects experiment to measure changes in attitudes and responses to the candidates after exposure to the debate and utilized facial expression software to examine real-time reaction to the candidates by assessing people’s emotional responses during the debate.

Data indicate that men and women experienced different emotional reactions during the debate. Women expressed ‘internalizing’ emotions like sadness twice as often as men during the debate, while men expressed ‘externalizing’ emotions like anger and disgust more often than women. The study found that men and women respond differently to candidates’ messaging during the debate and these emotional responses influence post-debate evaluations.

Article can be accessed/purchased through SpringerLink.