A Delicate Hand or Two-Fisted Aggression?: How Gendered Language Influences Candidate Perceptions

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Gendered language is seemingly found everywhere in American politics. We test the impact that gendered language has on voter support for a candidate, using a validated dictionary of words rated as highly masculine or feminine. In three experimental studies, we find that the use of feminine language causes individuals to perceive political candidates as more liberal. Additionally, liberals tend to prefer candidates who use feminine language, and conservatives prefer candidates who use masculine language, regardless of the sex of the candidate. These effects are mostly mediated, however, by perceptions of candidate ideology caused by the use of language.