Obama and Clinton stump speeches: I and we
February 19, 2008
This is a quick update on how Obama and Clinton are using first person singular (“I”) and plural (“we”) pronouns in their stump speeches. As noted in some earlier posts, use of I-words has been linked to honesty, being more personal, and being less threatening. Use of “we” words is generally linked to more psychological distancing between the speaker and the audience — as in the Royal We.
As you can see from the graphs, Obama and Clinton have been shifting in their use of pronouns over the last two months. The light blue bar refers to pronouns in their January stump speeches and the dark blue are for February. A number of interesting patterns are emerging. Whereas Clinton is dropping in her 1st person singular, Obama is increasing.
The overall patterns indicate some social and psychological shifts between the two candidates. Unlike the debates that have occurred so far, the stump speeches are revealing a warmer, more socially connected Obama and a more disconnected Clinton.
Watch Thursday’s debates to see if these patterns maintain themselves. Some findings (which will be discussed soon ) indicate that The Debater Obama is a different person than The Speech Maker Obama.