Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Sarah Allen Gershon
During the most recent presidential election, campaign rhetoric frequently took on an unusually aggressive tone. This shift in tone was matched by frequent displays of violent interactions between supporters and protestors at several campaign events. Further, once violent responses were elicited, these supporters were often applauded for their behavior and offered further support. These simultaneous trends offer new opportunities to research the ways in which campaigns attempt to influence voter behavior. Specifically, it is prudent to question how candidates stylize their rhetoric to elicit stronger behavioral responses from potential voters, and the effect that these appeals have on voters. Considering the historic nature of this election, I seek to investigate how candidates utilize rhetoric in campaign rally speeches to appeal to voters and elicit stronger displays of support. Using a content analysis of general election campaign rally speeches, cross-sectional survey data, and original experimental data, I examine the relationship between threat frames about immigrants in rally speeches, attitudes towards immigrants, and attitudes towards and willingness to engage in violence by individuals.
Hayes, Liam, "Fighting Words: How Campaign Rhetoric Elicits Emotion, Attitude Change, and Violent Encounters." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2021.
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