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The Mind Versus the Body in Political (and Nonpolitical) Discourse: Linguistic Evidence for an Ideological Signature in U.S. Politics

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  • Michael D. Robinson
  • Ryan L. Boyd
  • Adam K. Fetterman
  • Michelle R. Persich
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/09/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number4
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)438-461
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date31/08/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Ideological liberals may focus on mental operations to a greater extent than bodily operations, whereas this pattern may be reversed among conservatives. Although there are suggestive sources of evidence, prior research has not directly examined relations between political ideology and this mind–body distinction. The present investigation did so by content-coding texts using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count program and its cognitive and bodily process categories. Three studies involving posts to political news websites (Study 1), presidential State of the Union addresses (Study 2), and writing samples by laypersons (Study 3) converged on the hypothesis that texts produced by those with liberal ideologies would score positively in mind–body terms (reflecting a greater relative mental focus), whereas texts produced by those with conservative ideologies would score negatively in mind–body terms (reflecting a greater bodily focus), a novel linguistic signature of political ideology.