Toronto: It was Donald Trump’s style and not substance that accounted for his US Republican presidential nomination and the subsequent political success, new research has revealed.
Psychology researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) compared Trump’s speech style and Twitter usage to that of the other top nine Republican contenders.
The real-estate mogul and reality star consistently ranked highest in ratings of grandiosity, “I”-statements, informal language, vocal pitch variation and use of Twitter.
“Trump’s outrageous statements over the course of the campaign led many political pundits to underestimate his chances of success,” said Delroy L. Paulhus, personality psychology researcher and professor at the UBC.
Contrary to what might be expected, grandiosity, simplistic language and rampant Twitter activity were statistical predictors of success in the Republican primaries.
“Although Trump’s bombastic communication style was shocking — even detestable to many viewers — our research suggests that this style helped him win the Republican nomination,” Paulhus noted.
To reach this conclusion, speech segments from Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham and Mike Huckabee were transcribed and analysed using a computerised text analysis software.
The transcriptions were also coded for grandiosity by trained raters after all personal information and references to the candidate’s party were removed.
The researchers also conducted an acoustical analysis of the speeches, to determine pitch variability, which tends to promote an image of energy and dynamism.
Finally, the researchers examined each candidate’s tweet count in the three months before they announced their candidacy.
“This phenomenon not only helps explain Donald Trump’s political rise, but how questionable political leaders might gain power — even in democracies,” said Paulhus in a paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.