Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 6-1-2021


Despite increasing research surrounding emotional appeals in politics, few studies seek to understand how male vs. female candidates use emotional and gendered appeals differently in their own campaign advertisements. With more and more female politicians entering office every year, it’s important to understand their political rhetoric. Studying advertisements directly and analyzing them for emotional appeals and gender-based appeals is necessary to fill this gap. The present study utilizes research from political rhetoric and gender psychology to conduct a content analysis on 36 televised campaign advertisements from the 2020 election cycle. The results demonstrate that male and female candidates don’t meet the expectations of what existing research would suggest regarding their political rhetoric. In fact, male and female candidates take quite similar approaches to their advertisements. Implications for further research on voter and politician behavior is discussed.


Winner of the 2021 Prindle Prize for Ethics in Social Science