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Does Complex or Simple Rhetoric Win Elections? An Integrative Complexity Analysis of U.S. Presidential Campaigns

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Abstract

Research suggests that the integrative complexity of political rhetoric tends to drop during election season, but little research to date directly addresses if this drop in complexity serves to increase or decrease electoral success. The two present studies help fill this gap. Study 1 demonstrates that, during the Democratic Party primary debates in 2003–2004, the eventual winners of the party nomination showed a steeper drop in integrative complexity as the election season progressed than nonwinning candidates. Study 2 presents laboratory evidence from the most recent presidential campaign demonstrating that, while the complexity of Obama's rhetoric had little impact on college students' subsequent intentions to vote for him, the complexity of McCain's rhetoric was significantly positively correlated with their likelihood of voting for him. Taken together, this research is inconsistent with an unqualified simple is effective view of the complexity-success relationship. Rather, it is more consistent with a compensatory view: Effective use of complexity (or simplicity) may compensate for perceived weaknesses. Thus, appropriately timed shifts in complexity levels, and/or violations of negative expectations relevant to complexity, may be an effective means of winning elections. Surprisingly, mere simplicity as such seems largely ineffective.

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... Participants also completed several items relevant to their political ideology. We focus on two of those here: standard bipolar items anchored by liberal/conservative and Democratic/Republican that have been used in prior research (e.g., Conway et al., 2012) and are similar to the vast majority of standard ideology measures (see e.g., Jost et al., 2003;Federico, Deason, & Fisher, 2012). These two items were highly correlated (r 5 .77) ...
... As such, the construct is able to capture the underlying mechanisms of the complexity of thought on a broad level that is conceptually independent of the content domain of the passage. It is in part for this domain-general breadth that integrative complexity is the most widely used scoring system for measuring the complexity of open-ended statements (e.g., Conway & Gornick, 2011;Conway et al., 2012;Conway, Suedfeld, & Clements, 2003;Conway, Suedfeld, & Tetlock, 2001;Houck et al., 2014;Suedfeld & Bluck, 1988;Suedfeld & Leighton, 2002;Suedfeld & Tetlock, 1976;Tetlock, 1984Tetlock, , 1986. ...
... Although it is intended to be a "content free" measurement, this does not mean that participants' complexity is uninfluenced by the domain of interest. Indeed, although content domain is not often a subject of inquiry in integrative complexity research, topic domain has been shown to influence integrative complexity in some lines of research (Conway et al., 2008;Conway et al., 2012;Pancer et al., 1995;Suedfeld, 2000;Suedfeld & Wallbaum, 1992;Tetlock, 1986;Tetlock, Peterson, & Lerner, 1996). In all this work, the specific content domain that people wrote or talked about mattered for the ultimate complexity they produced. ...
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Prior research suggests that liberals are more complex than conservatives. However, it may be that liberals are not more complex in general, but rather only more complex on certain topic domains (while conservatives are more complex in other domains). Four studies (comprised of over 2,500 participants) evaluated this idea. Study 1 involves the domain specificity of a self-report questionnaire related to complexity (dogmatism). By making only small adjustments to a popularly used dogmatism scale, results show that liberals can be significantly more dogmatic if a liberal domain is made salient. Studies 2–4 involve the domain specificity of integrative complexity. A large number of open-ended responses from college students (Studies 2 and 3) and candidates in the 2004 Presidential election (Study 4) across an array of topic domains reveals little or no main effect of political ideology on integrative complexity, but rather topic domain by ideology interactions. Liberals are higher in complexity on some topics, but conservatives are higher on others. Overall, this large dataset calls into question the typical interpretation that conservatives are less complex than liberals in a domain-general way.
... There is ample theoretical and empirical evidence that suggests the strategic manipulation of linguistic complexity can be beneficial for success (e.g., Conway et al., 2012;Tetlock, 1981;Repke et al., 2018;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007). However, although integrative complexity research examines expansive topics ranging from political speeches (e.g., Conway et al., 2012;Conway & Zubrod, under review;Houck & Conway, 2019) to terrorism (e.g., Houck et al., 2017;Putra et al., 2018), no integrative complexity research that we know of has examined attorneys' linguistic style during trials (although, as discussed earlier, some work has examined Supreme Court judges, Gruenfeld, 1995;Gruenfeld & Preston, 2000;Hansford & Coe, 2019;Owens & Wedeking, 2011;Tetlock et al., 1985). ...
... There is ample theoretical and empirical evidence that suggests the strategic manipulation of linguistic complexity can be beneficial for success (e.g., Conway et al., 2012;Tetlock, 1981;Repke et al., 2018;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007). However, although integrative complexity research examines expansive topics ranging from political speeches (e.g., Conway et al., 2012;Conway & Zubrod, under review;Houck & Conway, 2019) to terrorism (e.g., Houck et al., 2017;Putra et al., 2018), no integrative complexity research that we know of has examined attorneys' linguistic style during trials (although, as discussed earlier, some work has examined Supreme Court judges, Gruenfeld, 1995;Gruenfeld & Preston, 2000;Hansford & Coe, 2019;Owens & Wedeking, 2011;Tetlock et al., 1985). As a result of this lack of research on attorney courtroom language complexity, we had no certain predictions entering the study. ...
... Simplicity and complexity have often-competing strengths and weaknesses (e.g., Conway et al., 2012). On the one hand, simple rhetoric is often easier to understand and perceived as more powerful. ...
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Famous trials not only generate immense popularity and intrigue, they also have the power to change history. Surprisingly, little research examines the use of complex language during these culturally-significant trial outcomes. In the present study, we helped fill in this gap by evaluating the relationship between attorneys’ use of integratively complex language and trial outcomes. Using the well-validated Automated Integrative Complexity scoring system, we analyzed the complexity of language in the opening and closing statements of famous trials. We found that higher levels of integrative complexity led to a significant increase in winning outcomes, but only for the prosecution. Further, this effect was driven by elaborative forms of complexity and not dialectical forms of complexity. Taken together, these results fill a large gap in our understanding of how language might influence the outcomes of culturally-significant legal proceedings.
... Integrative complexity's roles as predictor and correlate are well-documented. For example, integrative complexity is a strong indicator of the psychology of war and peace (e.g., Conway, Suedfeld, & Clements, 2003;Conway, Suedfeld, & Tetlock, 2001;Suedfeld & Leighton, 2002;Suedfeld & Bluck, 1988;Suedfeld & Tetlock, 1977;Tetlock, 1985), developmental psychology (e.g., Suedfeld & Piedrahita, 1984), election results (e.g., Conway et al., 2012), the psychology of attitude formation (e.g., Conway et al., 2008;Conway, Dodds, Towgood, McClure, & Olson, 2011;Conway et al., 2012;Tetlock, 1986), and personality psychology (e.g., Suedfeld, Conway, & Eichhorn, 2001), political leadership (e.g., Suedfeld, Leighton, & Conway, 2005;Tetlock, 1984;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007) and the long term success of revolutionary leaders (e.g., Suedfeld & Rank, 1976). However, as these examples suggest, the utilization of integrative complexity as a variable has been largely applied to studies relevant to the domains of political psychology. ...
... Integrative complexity's roles as predictor and correlate are well-documented. For example, integrative complexity is a strong indicator of the psychology of war and peace (e.g., Conway, Suedfeld, & Clements, 2003;Conway, Suedfeld, & Tetlock, 2001;Suedfeld & Leighton, 2002;Suedfeld & Bluck, 1988;Suedfeld & Tetlock, 1977;Tetlock, 1985), developmental psychology (e.g., Suedfeld & Piedrahita, 1984), election results (e.g., Conway et al., 2012), the psychology of attitude formation (e.g., Conway et al., 2008;Conway, Dodds, Towgood, McClure, & Olson, 2011;Conway et al., 2012;Tetlock, 1986), and personality psychology (e.g., Suedfeld, Conway, & Eichhorn, 2001), political leadership (e.g., Suedfeld, Leighton, & Conway, 2005;Tetlock, 1984;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007) and the long term success of revolutionary leaders (e.g., Suedfeld & Rank, 1976). However, as these examples suggest, the utilization of integrative complexity as a variable has been largely applied to studies relevant to the domains of political psychology. ...
... Would films with more complex dialogue be more or less likely to win? On the one hand, people often like simplicity (see Conway et al., 2012, for a discussion). The power of simplicity can be seen in studies of successful political figures: Lower levels of complexity increase a political or revolutionary figure's chances of achieving power (Tetlock, 1981;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976). ...
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The predictive power of integrative complexity and its subtypes is both well-documented and thoroughly researched, but the bulk of the research on the variable occurs within political psychology. Below, we present 2 studies that show integrative complexity’s validity in understanding the psychology of entertainment and pop culture. In both studies, we utilized integrative complexity as a means of comparison between the winning films and losing films during the film award season. Study 1 compared the winners and losers in the Academy Awards’ Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay categories for 5 randomly chosen years between 1990 and 2015. Study 2 expanded this scope and compared winners and losers from different categories for the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and People’s Choice Awards. Across both studies, we found that winning films consistently scored lower for all 3 types of integrative complexity than the losing films. We believe our findings support the notion that integrative complexity is a viable variable outside of political psychology contexts, and also provides insight into how people psychologically perceive the quality of a film.
... For instance, IC has been shown to be a predictor of armed conflict during diplomatic crises where decreased complexity among heads of state precedes armed conflict (Suedfeld & Jhangiani, 2009;Wallace, Suedfeld, & Thachuk, 1993). IC has also been linked to electoral outcomes (Conway et al., 2012), is associated with political ideology (Suedfeld, 2010), as well as political and religious extremism (van Hiel & Mervielde, 2003;Hunsberger, Pratt, & Pancer, 1994). Lastly, pertinent research (on both IC and charisma, albeit separately) shows that the two factors do co-exist within political rhetoric. ...
... Presidents who won reelection gradually reduced their IC mostly in their last two SOTU addresses. Those who lost their reelection battles tended to ramp up their complexity in the twilight of their first terms and newer studies of IC and elections support these findings (Conway et al., 2012). ...
... The discussion above shows that IC changes over time and is thus subject to the year-of-term variable. Some research also suggests a directional movement, where IC drops during election seasons (Conway et al., 2012), which usually happens during mid-term and towards the end of a president's term in office. Of course, the general election is more consequential and here we expect a drop in IC. ...
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This study advances Thoemmes and Conway's seminal work on integrative complexity (IC) of U.S. presidents by examining the relationship between IC and charisma in the State of the Union address. I examined a census of SOTU addresses given from George Washington to Barack Obama using Boas Shamir's self-concept based motivational charisma construct. IC and charisma were positively related for presidents in the first terms in office; however, this relation only held for presidents who eventually won reelection. Data also confirmed a positive correlation between charisma and the likelihood of reelection. I describe various trends in the data with respect to charisma and IC for time in office. Overall findings that using IC in leadership studies may be a worthwhile endeavor, as is measuring charisma by computer given that this measure correlated reasonably well with measures of charisma derived from other sources.
... Using different communication approaches has consequences for integrative complexity. Previous research drawn from strategic models of language suggests that people sometimes strategically alter how complexly they communicate in order to accomplish a specific goal or motive (e.g., Conway et al., 2008Conway et al., , 2012McCullough & Conway, 2017;Tetlock, 1981; see also Thoemmes & Conway, 2007). For example, integrative complexity is sometimes affected by the level of public accountability (e.g., Tetlock, 1983a). ...
... Further, because IC can be scored for anyone, researchers have successfully used it to understand and predict behavior in populations that are otherwise difficult to study, such as terrorists Smith, Suedfeld, Conway, & Winter, 2008), famous individuals (Houck, Conway, Parrow, Luce, & Salvati, 2018), and notable politicians (e.g. Conway et al., 2012;Conway, Gornick, et al., 2015;Conway et al., 2016;Gruenfeld, 1995;Jhangiani et al., 2008;Suedfeld, 2000;Suedfeld & Bluck, 1988;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007). This measurement feature is especially relevant for the purposes of this meta-analysis, as it also allows for comparisons of public political figures versus lay citizens. ...
... Thus, although in each case the public sample approached but did not attain significance, it is clear that the overall pattern reported in the main text holds within each lab. No matter how construed, the present results validate a clear difference Conway et al. (2012) because the Speaker Ns for these studies did not meet minimal sample size requirements to produce CIs, which must be equal to at least 4 (http://vassarstats.net/rho.html). Similarly, the Jhangiani et al. (2008) and Conway, Gornick, et al. (2015) Study 3 did not meet sample size criteria for the CI calculation and also did not report paragraph n information. ...
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Research on the relationship between political conservatism and integrative complexity has yielded contradictory results, and little effort has been made to place these mixed results in a theoretical context. The present article considers this issue through a strategic model of language that suggests different psychological processes apply to public politicians versus private citizens. We use a methodologically precise meta-analytic test of the relationship between political ideology and integrative complexity to examine the degree that conservative simplicity can be understood as a function of public versus private samples. Across 35 studies, findings revealed that conservatives are significantly less complex than liberals overall; however, while this effect was significant for public politicians, no relationship emerged for private citizens. Consistent with a strategic model, conservative simplicity was particularly in evidence for elected officials. This theoretical analysis has many consequences for our understanding of psychological theories that help explain the consequences of political ideology.
... Short-term circumstances are also correlated with shifts in rhetorical complexity. Politicians simplify their public communications during election campaigns (Tetlock 1981;Conway et al. 2012), at periods of international or domestic crises (Suedfeld, Leighton, and Conway 2006), and when appealing to less educated voters (Spirling 2016). On the other hand, their speeches tend to increase in complexity when they are held accountable for their words (Tetlock 1983) and once they assume a powerful political position in which they are expected to take multiple interests into account (Suedfeld 2010). ...
... Studies have extensively explored the political conditions correlated with changes in integrative complexity (e.g., election campaigns decrease it), but have dealt less with the way variations in this variable affect citizens. In the one study I am aware of that experimentally tested the impact of complexity on citizens (Conway et al. 2012), real campaign speeches by two US presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, were collected and coded for complexity. Subjects then were exposed to either a simple or a complex real statement, and average candidate evaluations were measured. ...
... While the sidedness literature emphasizes the role of refuting counterarguments, this study points to the integration of an opposing argument as a mechanism that can increase persuasion, though only when the issue is contentious. Finally, the results are in line with the one experiment I am aware of that explored the effects of rhetorical complexity on citizens (Conway et al. 2012), which found no consistent "simplicity effect" for political rhetoric. ...
Article
In the past two decades, increasing levels of simplicity in political elite rhetoric have drawn both empirical interest and normative concern from political scientists. While conventional wisdom holds that politicians simplify their public communications because "simplicity works," the way citizens respond to such messages has hardly been investigated. This study presents the results of two experiments testing the effects of simplicity on two major goals of elite communication: informing citizens and persuading them. Results show that simple rhetoric has lower informative value for citizens than complex rhetoric, regardless of the issue being addressed and the partisan identity of the speaker. In terms of persuasion, results point to a conditional effect. When a politician addresses a like-minded audience, simplicity sways public opinion. However, when addressing a polarized audience, simple rhetoric is ineffective.
... This historical comparison will allow us to infer differences between ISILa group that has had considerable success radicalising individualsand a relatively less successful group (Al Qaeda) in the same way that prior research compares the rhetoric of successful and less successful groups or individuals (e.g. Conway et al., 2012;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007). ...
... To accomplish this, the present study focuses on a variable that has proven very important in understanding political rhetoric (e.g. Conway, Gornick, Houck, Hands Towgood, & Conway, 2011;Conway, Gornick, Burfeind, et al., 2012;Conway, Gornick, Houck, et al., 2015;Conway, Houck, Gornick, & Repke, 2016;: Integrative complexity. We first describe integrative complexity and then discuss reasons for applying it to ISIL in particular. ...
... Indeed, although no evidence that we know of compares the rhetoric of terrorist groups who are more and less successful (the goal of the present project), integrative complexity research in other areas has found that simple (compared to complex) communication can lead to more political success in some contexts. For example, some research suggests that simple language is associated with political success in both democratic elections (Conway et al., 2012;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007) and attempted revolutions (Suedfeld & Rank, 1976). ...
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The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) became an increasingly powerful terrorist organisation in a relatively short period of time, drawing more recruits than its former affiliate, Al Qaeda. Many have attributed ISIL’s successful expansion in part to its extensive propaganda platform. But what causes terrorist groups to be effective in their communication to the public? To investigate, we examined one aspect of terrorists’ rhetoric: Integrative complexity. In particular, this historical examination provides a broad integrative complexity analysis of public statements released by key members of ISIL and Al Qaeda over a 10-year period when ISIL was rapidly growing as a terrorist entity (2004–2014). Findings revealed that (a) ISIL demonstrated less complexity overall than Al Qaeda (p < .001) and (b) ISIL became increasingly less complex over this focal time period (p < .001), while Al Qaeda’s complexity remained comparatively stable (p= .69). Taken together, these data suggest that as ISIL grew in size and strength between 2004 and 2014 – surpassing Al Qaeda on multiple domains such as recruitment, monetary resources, territorial control, and arms power – it simultaneously became less complex in its communication to the public.
... The latter position is more complex in that it incorporates different ideas about the topic (safety vs. freedom). Social and political psychologists and scientists have examined the causes and conse quences of cognitive complexity as they relate to political ideology (e.g., Conway et al., 2015;Joseph, Graham, & Haidt, 2009;Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003A;Tet lock, 1983B;Van Hiel, Onraet, & De Pauw, 2010), political attitudes and behavior (e.g., Conway et al., 2012;Suedfeld, Bluck, Loewen, & Elkins, 1994;Tetlock, Bernzweig, & Gal lant, 1985;Van Hiel & Mervielde, 2003), political peace and conflict (e.g., Conway & Con way, 2011;Suedfeld & Bluck, 1988), and political elites (e.g., Conway, Suedfeld, & Clements, 2003;Suedfeld, 2010;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007), among other political dynamics. ...
... Research suggests this kind of public accountability impacts complexity (e.g., Tetlock, 1983A), and that speakers intentionally shift how complexly they communicate depending on their strategic motives (e.g., Conway et al., 2008Conway et al., , 2012McCullough & Conway, 2018;Tetlock, 1981; see also Houck et al., 2017;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007), and how their strategies align with their perceptions of the audience . But do communication strategies differ between conservative and liberal political elites in public positions in ways that do not apply to private citizens? ...
... Further, political leaders rated as most successful showed steeper complexity increases after assuming their political posi tions (Suedfeld, 1994). Similarly, results from both political elite samples and experimen tal lab research found that winning candidates (compared with non-winners) showed a steeper drop in integrative complexity later in their election campaigns, suggesting that complexity shifts may indeed be a persuasive tool for candidates (Conway et al., 2012). However, Conway et al. (2012) note that in a follow-up study results suggested that the public perception of the political candidate's complexity importantly interacts with voting intention. ...
... Integrative complexity has a well-established history as a variable in research. Developed by political psychologists, it has, for example, been used to study the underlying psychology of terrorism (Conway & Conway, 2011;Smith, Suedfeld, Conway, & Winter, 2008), war and peace (Conway, Suedfeld, & Clements, 2003;Conway, Suedfeld, & Tetlock, 2001), elections (Conway et al., 2012), political ideology (Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003;Suedfeld & Epstein, 1973;Tetlock, 1984), and political leadership (Ballard, 1983;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007;Wasike, 2017). More recently, the variable has seen larger application in the domains of pop culture and media (for examples, see McCullough, 2019;McCullough & Conway, 2018b;Robertson, Aiello, & Quercia, 2019), providing insights and advancing our understanding of the underlying psychology of pop culture, writing, and fiction. ...
... Will the heroes in horror films be more complex than the monsters/killers or will the heroes be less complex than the monsters/killers? Although to my knowledge no previous research has directly addressed the hero-villain (monster/killer) dichotomy in horror films in terms of integrative complexity, extrapolation can be made based on some works of prior research: Conway et al. (2012) explained how people tend to prefer simplicity over complexity. Because the heroes are the characters audiences are typically intended to identify with and prefer, it can be hypothesized that heroes exhibit low levels of integrative complexity. ...
... Will the films that are rotten according to Rotten Tomatoes score higher or lower in terms of integrative complexity than the films that are fresh? People typically prefer integrative simplicity over integrative complexity (Conway et al., 2012); however, although there is integrative complexity research that aligns with this finding in the context of pop culture, others deviate. ...
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Building on the growing literature of linguistic analysis in pop culture, the following study uses integrative complexity to evaluate prominent characters in horror films. Integrative complexity is a linguistic variable developed by psychologists that measures differentiation at the lower levels and integration at the higher levels. Sampled from 40 horror films, the characters were compared based on gender, whether the character is the film’s hero or monster/killer, and the critical response to the film (aggregate scores from Rotten Tomatoes). A random sample of dialogue from each character was collected and scored using Automated Integrative Complexity. A series of analyses of variance revealed the following: (a) No significant main effects for gender or the hero versus monster/killer condition. (b) A significant main effect for critical response: Rotten films scored lower than fresh films in terms of integrative complexity. (c) A significant interaction between gender and critical response: Fresh films featured male characters with significantly higher integrative complexity scores than the female characters, whereas there was no significant difference between female and male characters in rotten films. These findings provide insight into the underlying psychology of horror films and critical response, implying that complex male characters are associated with positive reviews, whereas female characters may be incidental to success in this context.
... Use of we-words in political discourse, on the contrary, have the paradoxical effect of making candidates appear more detached and less trustworthy (e.g., Pennebaker & Lay, 2002;Slatcher, Chung, Pennebaker, & Stone, 2007). These and numerous other studies (Conway et al., 2012;Crew & Lewis, 2011;Laver, Benoit, & Garry, 2003;Winter, 2011) show that language analysis can be a useful tool in quantifying important psychological characteristics of political figures without relying on self-reports or expert ratings. For the current study, we focus on three dimensions measured with language: analytic thinking, emotional tone, and authenticity. ...
... Through analysis of the words people use, we have found that analytic thinkers tend to use more articles and prepositions while more narrative thinkers tend to use more pronouns, adverbs, and auxiliary verbs (Pennebaker, Chung, Frazee, Lavergne, & Beaver, 2014). Analytic thinking has been found to be related to nonpolitical outcomes like academic performance and cognitive ability (Pennebaker & King, 1999;Robinson et al., 2013) as well as political outcomes like electoral success (Conway et al., 2012;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007). ...
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The 2016 election provided more language and polling data than any previous election. In addition, the election spurred a new level of social media coverage. The current study analyzed the language of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from the debates as well as the tweets of millions of people during the fall presidential campaign. In addition, aggregated polling data allowed for a comparison of daily election-relevant language from Twitter and fluctuations in voter preference. Overall, Trump’s debate language was low in analytic/formal thinking and high in negative emotional tone and authenticity. Clinton was high in analytic and positive emotions, low in authenticity. The analysis of almost 10 million tweets revealed that Trump-relevant tweets were generally more positive than Clinton-related tweets. Most important were lag analyses that predicted polling numbers a week later from tweets. In general, when Clinton-related tweets were more analytic, her subsequent poll numbers dropped. Similarly, positive emotion language in the Clinton-related tweets predicted lower poll numbers a week later. Conversely, Trump-related tweets that were high in positive emotion and in analytic thinking predicted higher subsequent polling. In other words, when Twitter language about the candidates was used in ways inconsistent with the candidates themselves, their poll numbers went up. We propose two possible explanations for these findings: the projection hypothesis, a desire to seek qualities the candidates are missing, and the participant hypothesis, a shift in who is participating in the Twitter conversation over the course of the campaigns.
... Explanatory arguments refer to the reasons that actors offer audiences to act, and character arguments refer to the information that actors provide to ensure the credibility of their reasons for audiences to act (Aristotle, 1991;Green, 2004;Suddaby and Greenwood, 2005). Message uniformity refers to the extent to which actors adjust their frames and arguments for action to appeal to the groups that comprise their audiences (cf., Conway et al., 2012;Magnusson, 2000). ...
... When attempting to influence their audiences' receptiveness to desired actions, social entrepreneurs must also account for the unique attributes-such as objectives, interests, and perspectives-of the groups that comprise their audiences. Message uniformity describes homogeneity in the content of actors' communications to their audiences (cf., Conway et al., 2012;Magnusson, 2000). While actors may emphasize common frames and arguments across their entire body of communications, they may adjust the content-such as topics, terminology, information, or "talking points"-used to enact these rhetorical tactics in individual communications. ...
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This paper explores how social entrepreneurs use rhetoric to facilitate the pervasive adoption of new, socially focused, industry practices. Our conceptualization proposes that the nature of social entrepreneurs’ rhetoric hinges on perceptions of their relationships to the industry members they seek to influence. We develop a framework that explains the effects of two cognitive structures—identity and power—on social entrepreneurs’ perceptions of industry members and, in turn, the social entrepreneurs’ rhetorical strategies for persuading the industry members to adopt new practices. Our framework specifies mechanisms through which social entrepreneurs facilitate systemic social change and, in doing so, informs theory at the intersection of social entrepreneurship, sustainable social change, and rhetoric.
... In over 100 studies published under the theoretical framework of integrative complexity, this method has been used by researchers in political psychology to explore the role of complexity in the context of wars (Stewart & Suedfeld, 2012;Suedfeld & Tetlock, 1977), revolutions (Suedfeld & Rank, 1976), and elections (Conway III et al., 2012), as well as the role of integrative complexity in more day-to-day settings, such as the creative and professional success of bi-cultural individuals living abroad (Tadmor, Galinsky, & Maddux, 2012), scientists' thinking on research and teaching (Feist, 1994), and the impact of positive and negative life-events (Suedfeld & Bluck, 1993). ...
... Thus, while the economy might not always be the core issue around which all campaigns revolve, political strategists, consultants, and researchers remain committed to the notion that candidates must promote a specific and unified theme throughout the campaign-that in order to win, candidates need to keep the campaign message coherent, succinct, and as unidimensional as possible (Benoit et al., 2011;Bradshaw, 2004;Conway III et al., 2012). This study offered a systematic and empirical examination of this common wisdom. ...
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The relationship between media and politics has been at the core of communication research for over a century. Previous research has examined the impact of both volume and tone of news coverage of political candidates on their electoral success, and the relationship between the volume of candidates’ social media activity (though not its tone) and electoral success. While past research found a positive relationship between these features and electoral success, recent criticisms have called into question the independent nature of these media factors. Moreover, while past research has paid some attention to volume and tone, researchers have yet to examine other key features of discourse represented in candidates’ coverage as a whole. One such feature is the extent to which a political discourse is unidimensional or multidimensional in nature, referred to in this study as thematic diversity. This is due, in part at least, to the complex nature of thematic diversity making its estimation challenging. Analyzing over 120,000 Tweets written by 142 U.S. Senate candidates during the 2012-2016 election cycles, as well as over 420,000 news articles covering 330 U.S. Senate candidates during the 2008-2016 election cycles, this study systematically explores the relationship between electoral success of political candidates and the volume and tone of their news coverage and social media activity. Using a wide array of controls, this study explores the independent (or dependent) nature of these media features. More importantly, this study goes beyond these previously studied media features, to systematically and empirically explore the relationship between thematic diversity in both candidates’ news coverage and social media activity, and their electoral success. Drawing on the conceptualization of diversity in various fields from biology, to physics and information sciences, and using two unsupervised machine learning methods, semantic network analysis and topic modeling, this study offers a novel approach to the conceptualization and estimation of thematic diversity, accounting for the variety, balance and disparity of various themes in a given corpus. Using these methods, this study offers evidence for a significant, negative, and semi-independent relationship between thematic diversity and electoral success, in both news media and social media.
... Similarly, Suedfeld and Rank (1976) showed that successful leaders exhibit lower complexity while seeking power but higher complexity after gaining power. On the other hand, research by Conway et al. (2012) indicated that the relation between complexity and candidate success is not that straightforward. Whatever the case, both baseline levels and change in complexity seem to play a role. ...
... And, across all candidates, informality was associated with number of primaries won. These results concur with previous research showing an association between simple campaign rhetoric and success in gaining power (Conway et al., 2012;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976). 2 The key lesson is to match one's complexity to that of the audience (Suedfeld, 1992). Although we combined them here, future research should tease apart the two elements of informality, that is, complexity and casualness. ...
Article
How did Donald Trump dominate his more experienced competitors in the primaries? We suspected the answer might lie in his communication style rather than his platform details. Hence, we analyzed the announcement speeches of the top nine Republican contenders as of October, 2015. We transcribed 27 speech segments each and applied Pennebaker's Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC), a computerized text analysis software. We also conducted acoustic analyses of the speech recordings and had them coded for grandiosity by trained (but blind) raters. Trump scored highest on (a) grandiosity ratings, (b) use of first person pronouns, (c) greater pitch dynamics, and (d) informal communication (including Twitter usage of all 17 candidates). With number of primaries won as the criterion, our results suggest that Trump benefited from all these aspects of campaign communication style. It remains to be seen whether this same communication profile will help or hinder success in a general election.
... The second type of explanations refer to temporary external changes in political conditions, such as election campaigns and international crises. At times of elections, for instance, the integrative complexity of U.S. presidents tends to decrease (Thoemmes & Conway, 2007), and the winners of party nominations in the United States show a steeper drop in complexity as the election campaign progresses, when compared to non-winners (Conway et al., 2012). The complexity of political leaders' communication also decreases prior to military attacks conducted by their country, and under stressful conditions such as domestic and international political crises (Suedfeld, 2010). ...
... They focus on the mental capacities of politicians, either in general or in a given context, and tend to discount the highly planned and goal-oriented nature of political communication. The few studies that do propose that integrative complexity may be a deliberate rhetorical strategy do not test this possibility: they demonstrate changes in complexity at times considered highly strategic for politicians—such as election campaigns—and conclude that these changes may reflect a conscious choice (Conway et al., 2012;Tetlock, 1981;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007). None of these studies, however, examines the systemic origins of strategic shifts in complexity. ...
Article
The exchange of diverse points of view in elite deliberation is considered a cornerstone of democracy. This study presents evidence that variations in political motivation for media use predict the tendency of politicians to present deliberative rhetoric that considers multiple points of view regarding issues and sees those views as related to one another. We surveyed 111 incumbent Members of Parliament in Belgium, Canada, and Israel and analyzed a large sample of their parliamentary speeches. The findings demonstrate that motivation to attain media coverage and act upon information from the news media leads politicians to strategically display simple and unidimensional rhetoric due to newsworthiness considerations, but only in countries where the media constitute important resources for reelection. The results contribute to extant literature by demonstrating a media effect on elite deliberation and by emphasizing the moderating role of political systems on the nature of elite rhetoric.
... It has a long history as a research variable. For example, integrative complexity has been applied to the study of the psychology of war and peace (Conway, Suedfeld, & Clements, 2003;Conway, Suedfeld, & Tetlock, 2001;Suedfeld & Bluck, 1988;Suedfeld & Leighton, 2002;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976;Winter, 2007), terrorism (Conway & Conway, 2011;Smith, Suedfeld, Conway, & Winter, 2008), the film award season (McCullough & Conway, 2017a), political leadership (Ballard, 1983; Thoemmes & Conway, 2007;Wasike, 2017), the psychology of attitude formation (Conway et al., , 2012, fiction (McCullough & Conway, 2017b), video games (McCullough, in press), and personality psychology (Schneider & Giambra, 1971;Suedfeld, Conway, & Eichhorn, 2001;Tuckman, 1966). ...
... In other words, do popular works of fanfiction score higher or lower in terms of integrative complexity when compared with unpopular works of fanfiction? Previous integrative complexity research does present consistent complexity patterns in relation to success: Generally speaking, the previous findings indicate that persons often favor simplicity over complexity (Conway et al., 2012;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976;Tetlock, 1981;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007). ...
Article
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Vinney and Dill-Shackleford (2018) applied linguistic analysis to the study of the psychology of fanfiction. This article builds upon this previous research through two studies that individually score and compare the integrative complexity, a linguistic variable, of a sample of paragraphs from 45 popular fanfictions and 45 unpopular fanfictions. Across both studies, significant main effects were found for integrative complexity and its two subtypes. A singular mean pattern emerged: The popular fanfiction had consistently higher complexity scores than the unpopular fanfiction. These results are a clear divergence from expectations because typically simplicity is preferred over complexity (see Conway et al., 2012, for greater discussion). This divergence may be a result of the nature of writing and text-based medium, the nature of critical review, or potentially the nature of fanfiction as a partial by-product of fan frustration. Finally, these studies provide a foundation for future exploration in the underlying psychology of fanfiction as a growing phenomenon and new form of cultural critique.
... 5), and integration "refers to recognition of conceptual relations among differentiated dimensions" (p. 5). 4 For example, IC has been employed to study terrorism (e.g., Conway Smith et al., 2008), political ideology (Houck & Conway, 2019;Jost et al., 2003;Suedfeld & Epstein, 1973;Tetlock, 1984), international conflicts (e.g., Conway et al., 2003;Conway et al., 2001), elections (Conway et al., 2012), attitude formation (e.g., Conway et al., 2008Tetlock, 1986), personality psychology (Schneider & Giambra, 1971;Tuckman, 1966), and political leadership (e.g., Ballard, 1983;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007;Wasike, 2017). 5 Examples of communication studies research that incorporates IC in the analysis include Demeter (2017), Hoffman and Slater (2007), Kim et al. (1999), McCullough and Kalsher (2019), and Shulman (2008). ...
... People tend to prefer simplicity over complexity; simplicity is easier to produce and understand (Conway et al., 2012). As the research in the previous subsection illustrates, this preference appears to extend to media awards; as such, the present study functions under the hypothesis that there is a negative relationship between IC and winning for the KCAs. ...
Article
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Building on previous linguistic evaluations of media awards the present study uses integrative complexity (IC)—a rhetorical construct and psycholinguistic variable—to explore Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards (KCAs), comparing the dialogue from the winners and nominees. The KCAs represent a unique opportunity for study because (a) although not viewed as prestigious as other awards (e.g., the Academy Awards or Golden Globes), they occupy an established space of cultural relevance, and (b) unlike most media awards, they prioritize kids, who form the voter base. Focusing specifically on the film categories, statistical analysis found significant negative relationships between IC and winning. These results reflect the findings from previous research, indicating that IC meaningfully predicts outcomes for media awards and that a shared psychology in terms of linguistic perception and how it relates to winning media awards may exist. In conjunction with previous research, the present study’s results overall suggest that IC has a place within predictive models used to assess and evaluate entertainment media.
... Explanatory arguments refer to the reasons that actors offer audiences to act, and character arguments refer to the information that actors provide to ensure the credibility of their reasons for audiences to act (Aristotle, 1991;Green, 2004;Suddaby and Greenwood, 2005). Message uniformity refers to the extent to which actors adjust their frames and arguments for action to appeal to the groups that comprise their audiences (see Conway et al., 2012;Magnusson, 2000). ...
... When attempting to influence their audiences' receptiveness to desired actions, social entrepreneurs must also account for the unique attributes -such as objectives, interests, and perspectives -of the groups that comprise their audiences. Message uniformity describes homogeneity in the content of actors' communications to their audiences (see Conway et al., 2012;Magnusson, 2000). While actors may emphasize common frames and arguments across their entire body of communications, they may adjust the content -such as topics, terminology, information, or 'talking points' -used to enact these rhetorical tactics in individual communications. ...
Article
Social entrepreneurs seek to address normative inefficiencies by fostering broad scale change in industry practices. Rhetoric provides such entrepreneurs with a powerful instrument to overcome resistance to change. We propose that the nature of social entrepreneurs’ rhetoric hinges on their evaluations of the industry members they seek to influence. Two cognitive structures—identity and power—inform these evaluations and, in turn, affect the rhetorical devices used to foster change. We develop a model that conveys four combinations of identity and power differentials, recognizes the rhetorical devices associated with each, and highlights the rhetorical strategy reflected by these devices.
... This means a complex writer addresses various viewpoints of an issue and meaningfully illustrates their connections, while a simplistic writer does not (for more detail, see Baker-Brown et al., 1992). Integrative complexity has a well-established history as a predictor and correlate: For examples, integrative complexity is predictive of the outcomes of political elections (Conway et al, 2012), if countries are going to war (Conway, Suedfeld & Tetlock, 2001;Suedfeld, Leighton & Conway, 2005) and the success of revolutionary leaders (Suedfeld & Rank, 1976). ...
... Typically-speaking, people favor simplicity over complexity. As Conway et al (2012) explains, "people seem to like simplicity. Simplicity requires less effort to both produce and understand than complexity; simplicity is reassuring; simplicity motivates us to action" (p. ...
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As a research variable, integrative complexity has a long, well-documented history as a predictor and correlate for real-world phenomenon (for example, Conway, Suedfeld, & Tetlock, 2001 for a discussion on integrative complexity and war). Recently, McCullough & Conway (2017a) displayed the variable's viability in the understanding of pop cultural domains. The present study builds upon this previous research and explores potential complexity differences between winning and losing video games at the Spike Video Game Awards. It compared the integrative complexity of a sample of video game dialogue for three categories (Best Shooter, Best RPG and Best Action/Adventure). Originally, individual ANOVAs revealed significant main effects for only the integrative and dialectical complexity for the Best Shooter category. An ad-hoc ANOVA of all three categories revealed similar results; however, across all analyses a consistent mean pattern emerged: The winning games averaged lower complexity scores than the losing games. These findings suggest a general association between simplistic dialogue and high-quality video games, providing keen insight into the underlying psychology of video games, and establishes a strong foundation for future research.
... All participants also completed a standard two-item political selfidentification scale, with items anchored by liberal/conservative and democratic/republican (e.g., Conway et al., 2012;Conway et al., 2016;Conway, Houck, et al., 2017a; see also, e.g., Jost et al., 2003). Table 1 reports zero-order correlations and partial correlations that 1 MTurk has been validated for use as a representative sample for research related to politics and political ideology (see, e.g., Clifford, Jewell, & Waggoner, 2015), generally shows similar results as other samples (for an example, see Conway, Houck, et al., 2017a;Houck et al., 2014), and has been used in recent work evaluating authoritarianism and Trump support during the 2016 election (Choma and Hanoch, 2017;Ludeke et al., 2018). 2 The 2008 participants and 2016 Sample 1 participants were from Studies 1 and 2 (respectively) from a prior research project (Conway, Houck, et al., 2017a). ...
Article
Recent research suggests authoritarianism may play a key role in election outcomes, yet that work has focused almost exclusively on right-wing authoritarianism. In the present work, we compare the ability of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and Left-Wing Authoritarianism (LWA) to predict support for candidates during two U.S. Presidential elections (total n = 1582). Samples of Americans who reported their support for each candidate after both the 2008 (n = 467) and 2016 (n = 1115) elections revealed that LWA was a better predictor of support for Obama during the 2008 election, whereas RWA was a better predictor of support for Trump during the 2016 election. LWA and RWA were both weaker predictors of the candidate that ultimately lost in each election. Implications for current understanding of (1) the connection between authoritarianism and election outcomes, and (2) the predictive power of authoritarianism (as distinguished from self-reported political identity) are both discussed.
... Higher scores on this scale represent more favorable attitudes towards coercion, criminal punishment, and group discrimination in the application of suspicion. 1 We further asked participants to complete standard measurements of political conservatism (e.g., Conway et al., 2012), need for cognition (Cacioppo, Petty, & Kao, 1984), need for structure (Neuberg & Newsom, 1993), social dominance orientation (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994), and right wing authoritarianism (Altemeyer, 1981). ...
Poster
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Prior research suggests people’s abstract views of torture are often negative. We suspected, however, that those views might not fully represent torture perceptions in a scenario where they felt closeness to the potential victims. To test this idea, participants read a scenario about a crisis situation and completed measurements of their support for torture usage in the scenario. Scenarios varied in their degree of personal closeness to the victim. Results from two studies suggest that people were considerably more likely to support torture in applied, personally-relevant scenarios compared to at-a-distant scenarios involving unknown victims. These studies can inform both our understanding of torture perceptions and the current cultural debate between deontologists and consequentialists about this topic.
... , electoral success (see, e.g., Conway et al., 2012), and health outcomes (e.g., Davidson, Livingstone, McArthur, Dickson, & Gumley, 2007). However, in spite of its practical predictive importance, comparatively little is known about what causes complex language to begin with. ...
Article
To what degree is complex language driven by personal cognitive factors versus strategic self-presentation? Studies teasing apart these two influences on complexity are hard to design and evidence bearing on the question is not abundant. To fill this gap, the present studies explored two models relevant to a form of communication full of strategic implications: deception. The cognitive strain model suggests that because lies are cognitively draining, deception will generally reduce complexity, whereas the strategic model expects the liar to adjust complexity up or down depending on the perceived benefits. Three studies tested differential predictions from these models by scoring different forms of linguistic complexity (dialectical and elaborative) for deceptive communications in real-world and experimental contexts. Results from these studies support the value of a strategic model of the effect of lying on complex language, thus suggesting that people strategically manipulate the complexity of their language to accomplish specific goals.
... Malouf and Mullen 2008). Note that recent research has clearly documented that an association exists: between simple campaign rhetoric and success in gaining power (Conway et al. 2012;Suedfeld and Rank 1976). The key lesson is to match one's complexity to that of the audience (Suedfeld 1992). ...
Article
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The present study investigates the frequency and functions of vague expressions (e.g. something, sort of) used in the 2016 U.S. presidential debates by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The data under scrutiny include transcripts of the televised debates (42,137 words). The study reveals that, while Trump’s speech is less lexically varied than Clinton’s, it contains a noticeably greater number of vague expressions. Trump’s tendency to use more instances of vague language is most evident in the categories of ‘vague boosters’ (e.g. very), ‘vague estimators’ (e.g. many), ‘vague nouns’ (e.g. things) and ‘vague extenders’ (e.g. and other places). Clinton, however, more frequently uses ‘vague subjectivisers’ (e.g. I think) and ‘vague possibility indicators’ (e.g. would). The differences observed may be attributed to the personal and professional backgrounds of the candidates and to the different communicative purposes they seek to achieve.
... We chose integrative complexity, in particular, because it has a long history of helping to understand the psychology of realworld phenomena. For example, integrative complexity has been used to understand the psychology of war and peace (e.g., Conway, Suedfeld, & Clements, 2003;Conway, Suedfeld, & Tetlock, 2001;Suedfeld, 2003;Suedfeld & Bluck, 1988;Suedfeld & Leighton, 2002;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976;Suedfeld & Tetlock, 1977;Tetlock, 1985), terrorism (e.g., Smith, Suedfeld, Conway, & Winter, 2008), political leadership (e.g., Suedfeld, Leighton, & Conway, 2005;Tetlock, 1984;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007), developmental psychology (e.g., Suedfeld & Piedrahita, 1984), the psychology of attitude formation (e.g., Conway et al., 2008Conway et al., , 2012Tetlock, 1986), and personality psychology (e.g., Suedfeld, Conway, & Eichhorn, 2001). ...
Article
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Is fiction a reflection of reality? Previous psychological research presents a contradicting picture. While Tetlock’s value pluralism model (Tetlock, 1986) and research focused on the complexity of lying (Repke, Conway, & Houck, in press; Newman, Pennebaker, Berry, & Richards, 2003) would argue against fiction being a reflection, the concept of prototypes (Rosch, 1978) argues for it. The subsequent paper presents 2 studies that hopefully provide a clearer picture and an answer to the aforementioned question by comparing the integrative complexity of fictional characters to their real-life counterparts. Study 1 utilized a deep-but-narrow approach, comparing a single salient, prototypical category, while Study 2 utilized the opposite approach, comparing 10 varied, prototypical categories. Overall, both Study 1’s and Study 2’s result upheld a clear, overwhelming divergence between fiction and reality (the fictional characters were consistently simpler than the nonfictional characters); however, an intraclass correlation in Study 2 revealed surprising and significant levels of overlap between fiction and reality that differed depending on the unique category. While this research is still too raw and novel to do more than speculate on the exact reasoning behind the differing levels of overlap, the mere existence of the levels of overlap themselves indicate a nuanced answer to the research question. Fiction is both psychologically a representation of reality and a divergence from it.
... Future research might also explore how between-party differences in intelligence (or the absence such differences) shape how politicians communicate to voters. For example, in the U.S., Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have often expressed themselves with fairly similar levels of complexity (Conway III et al., 2012;Slatcher, Chung, Pennebaker, & Stone, 2007), but in societies where parties differ more in cognitive ability we might expect politicians to adapt their communication strategies to accommodate the capabilities of their voters. Indeed, even within the U.S. results to this effect are suggestive: relative to other Republicans, Donald Trump campaigned on several egalitarian themes (if filtered through a populist lens), suggesting a targeting of voters located in the ideological space of the Danish People's Party ("O" in Fig. 3). ...
Article
953), intelligence does not predict the standard oper-ationalization of vote choice in which parties are placed on a single left-vs-right dimension. (Standardized coefficients predicting right-wing vote choice were 0.05 and −0.03, respectively.) However, this apparent non-effect in fact reflects approximately equal and opposite effects of intelligence on vote choice as transmitted through social and economic ideology. In both countries, higher ability predicts left-wing social and right-wing economic views. The impact of intelligence on vote choice is thus most visible in true multi-party systems like Denmark, in which parties do not simply pair similar levels of social and economic conservatism, but instead provide diverse combinations of social and economic ideology. Comparing the parties closest to representing authoritarian egalitarianism (social-right plus economic-left) and libertarianism (social-left plus economic-right), we observed a 0.9 SD intelligence gap.
... Following conventions in IC research, analyses are presented using the paragraph as the unit of analysis (Conway et al., 2012;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007). Doing so directly weighs documents by their actual size while simultaneously maximizing statistical power. ...
Article
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Stereotypical views cast religious believers as closed-minded, unthinking individuals, and irreligious persons as comparatively more intellectual and complex. But are these perceptions accurate? To investigate, three studies assessed differences between religious and irreligious thinking on Integrative Complexity (IC). In Study 1, six atheist–Christian opponents were scored for IC. Findings revealed that Christians were significantly more complex than their atheist counterparts overall, but variability existed across comparisons. Study 2 examined persons writing about what matters most to them, finding that people more likely to generate religious language had significantly higher complexity. Study 3 evaluated a famous atheist-toreligious convert (C.S. Lewis) who wrote comparable materials during an irreligious and religious phase of his life. Results demonstrated that Lewis’ complexity was higher during his religious phase. Taken together, Studies 1 to 3 suggest that religious thinkers are sometimes more complex than nonreligious thinkers and vice versa variability that sometimes goes unnoticed in public circles.
... Some keywords from this dictionary are strategy, execution, pipeline and revenue. information, and multiple viewpoints (Conway III et al., 2012). It is more complex to express ambivalence than it is to express certainty. ...
Thesis
I examine how information intermediaries’ prior experience or status influence the complexity of their evaluations in the context of a new technological industry. Drawing from research on managerial cognition, I argue that analysts with prior experience or status engage in schematic information processing that affects the complexity of their evaluations. Further, I develop the construct of evaluative complexity, which is an indicator of comprehensiveness of analyst evaluations. Historical data from the early internet industry (from 1995 to 2005) of approximately 1800 analyst reports on the initial public offerings in the internet industry support my predictions that analysts with either prior experience or status demonstrate less complexity in their evaluations of internet firms. Specifically, in new market contexts experienced or high-status analysts are more likely to include less firm-specific information, convey more certainty in a context that calls for caution and are more likely to assess new technological firms from unitary perspectives. Analysts with My research aims to contribute to our understanding of the role of infomediaries in the emergence of new technologies and the paradox of experience and status in new market contexts
... However, instances of conceptual integration were few. These findings suggest that the sophistication of online user comments is comparable with that of statements in U.S. congressional speeches (Tetlock 1983), presidential primary debates (Conway et al. 2012), or State of the Union addresses (Thoemmes and Conway 2007), in which the mean integrative complexity varies around a score of 2. Yet, it is much less refined than, for example, after participation in deliberative minipublics, where the mean integrative complexity of individuals' statements was found to range around a score of 4 (Jennstål 2019). ...
Article
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This study is the first to compare the integrative complexity of online user comments across distinct democratic political systems and in discussion arenas with different primary use functions. Integrative complexity is a psycho-linguistic construct that is increasingly used by communication scholars to study the argumentative quality of political debate contributions. It captures the sophistication of online user comments in terms of differentiation and integration, mapping whether a post contains different aspects or viewpoints related to an issue and the extent to which it draws conceptual connections between these. This study investigates user contributions on the public role of religion and secularism in society between August 2015 and July 2016 from Australia, the United States, Germany, and Switzerland. In each country, it analyzes user posts from the (a) website comment sections and (b) public Facebook pages of mainstream news media, from the (c) Facebook pages of partisan collective actors and alternative media, and from (d) Twitter. Almost as many user contributions implicitly or explicitly differentiate various dimensions of or perspectives on an issue as express unidimensional, simplistic thoughts. Conceptual integration, however, is rare. The integrative complexity of online user comments is higher in consensus-oriented than in majoritarian democracies and in arenas that are used primarily for issue-driven, plural discussions rather than preference-driven, like-minded debates. This suggests that the accommodative public debate cultures of consensus-oriented political systems and interactions with individuals who hold different positions promote more argumentatively complex over simple online debate contributions.
... In addition to assessing emotional aspects of participant responses, we were also interested in examining the influence of the interrogation simulations on cognitive style. To that end, we focused on one particular cognitive variable that has proven useful across a large number of domains (see, e.g., Abe, 2011;2012;Conway, Dodds, Towgood, McClure, & Olson, 2011;Conway et al., 2012;Conway et al., 2017;Davidson, Livingstone, McArthur, Dickson, & Gumley, 2007;Pennebaker, 2011;Repke et al., 2018;Suedfeld, 1992;Tetlock, 1984Tetlock, , 1993Tetlock, Bernzweig, & Gallant, 1985;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007;Van Hiel & Mervielde, 2003): Integrative Complexity (IC). IC is scored on a 1-7 scale; lower scores indicate rigid, black-and-white thinking, whereas higher scores reflect more flexible thinking accompanied by a recognition of multiple perspectives (see Baker-Brown et al., 1992 for examples and scoring specifications). ...
Article
Research suggests interrogation techniques used by U.S. law enforcement can yield false confessions. To investigate, participants (n = 151) were randomly assigned to complete one of two simulated interrogation exercises designed to model different interrogation tactics: (a) the accusatorial Reid Technique, one of the most widely-used interrogation approaches by U.S. law enforcement; or (b) the information-gathering "Compliance" model. False confession rates were examined. The underlying emotional and cognitive themes in participants’ written confessions and open-ended responses were also examined using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) and Automated Integrative Complexity systems. Results revealed no differences in false confession rates between conditions. However, participants exposed to Reid-based questioning used comparatively more negative, angry, and close-minded (cognitively simple) language when describing their interrogator and less certainty in confessions. The emergent differences in emotional and cognitive reactions inform our understanding of the effects of interrogation approaches used by law enforcement in the United States.
... For example, integrative complexity has been used to study terrorism (e.g.,Smith et al., 2008), elections(Conway et al., 2012), international conflicts (e.g.,Conway et al., 2003;Conway et al., 2001), political ideologies (e.g.,Gruenfeld, 1995;Houck & Conway, 2019;Jost et al., 2003;McCullough & Kalsher, 2019;Suedfeld & Epstein, 1973;Tetlock, 1984), attitude formation (e.g.,Conway et al., 2008;Tetlock, 1986), and political leadership (e.g.,Ballard, 1983;Thoemmes & Conway, 2007;Wasike, 2017). ...
Article
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The present study examines the relationship between integrative complexity and gender in the horror video game Until Dawn (Supermassive Games, 2015). By comparing a random sample of dialogue from the playable female and male characters, this study explores structural nuances and linguistic differences in how the characters are written, valued, and emphasized in the game's narrative. The results show that the female characters consistently scored significantly lower than the male characters in terms of integrative complexity. These findings may be explained by the male characters being main sources of conflict within the game and having greater degrees of agency. They also provide further support to the idea that female characters are often devalued and deemphasized-made secondary to their male counterparts-in horror narratives.
... Research has shown that leaders alter the complexity of their language to achieve group-based goals. Politicians who win elections, for instance, tend to display higher levels of integrative complexity toward the beginning of their campaigns and lower levels of integrative complexity as elections draw near (Conway et al., 2012). In Haslam et al.'s (2019) terms, referencing multiple viewpoints (increasing integrative complexity) early in the campaign potentially serves to unite individuals with disparate political views. ...
Article
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Haslam, Reicher, and Van Bavel (2019) convincingly argued that experimenters in the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) influenced prisoners via identity-based communication. However, Haslam et al. focused on direct mechanisms of identity communication. In our comment, we discuss a less direct-but potentially equally important-communication mechanism by which leaders in the SPE may have influenced followers: integrative complexity. This consideration of integrative complexity not only bolsters the basic point of Haslam et al.'s article also provides new avenues for understanding the mechanisms by which leader identity processes work in cases like the SPE. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
... Foreign policy rhetoric and elections are systematically interlinked, both generally in democracies as well as specifically in the United States. The sequence and recurrence of elections, the process of candidate choice in the primaries and elections, the sequence and relative importance of different communication channels and venues, and the overall make-up of the electorate matter for the type, frequency and tone of foreign policy rhetoric as employed by American presidential candidates (Bernardi, 2020;Ili et al., 2012;Trent et al., 2011). ...
Article
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This introduction presents the special issue’s conceptual and empirical starting points and situates the special issue’s intended contributions. It does so by reviewing extant scholarship on electoral rhetoric and foreign policy and by teasing out several possible linkages between elections, rhetoric and foreign policy. It also discusses how each contribution to the special issue seeks to illuminate causal mechanisms at work in these linkages. Finally, it posits that these linkages are crucial to examining the changes brought about by Trump’s election and his foreign policy rhetoric.
... All samples show that most of structures in portraying defamation case defendant are in complex sentence. Simplicity and complexity have oftencompeting strengths and weaknesses (Conway et al., 2012). In general, simple sentence structure is often easier to understand and perceived as more powerful. ...
Article
In Indonesia, the law that regulates defamation case is not only the Criminal Code but also the Law of the Republic Indonesia Number 11 of 2008 on Information Electronic Transactions (the ITE Law). From 2009 to 2014, the ITE Law has brought 71 defendants in courts as the suspects of defamation case. This overlapping law seems to be caused by many dimensions that can be used to see whether a person’s name can be ‘defamed’ due to someone else’s language productions. The complexity of defamation in Indonesia leads this study to look into its legal dimensions from a linguistic perspective. Conducted in the context of law in Indonesia, this research attempted to discover the portrayal of defamation case defendants in court verdicts. The data of the research were collected from the copies of court verdicts of two defendants of defamation case in Indonesia, settling in 2014 and 2015. The data were in the form of texts explaining the position of the defendants in their relation to the grounds for judge’s final decision. This research employed van Leeuwen’s (2004) Critical Discourse Analysis as a framework to reveal social semiotic features depicting and explaining the construction and position of inclusion and exclusion of social actors in related discourses. Data interpretation and final conclusions unveil the existence of certain features that might violate the principle of presumption of innocence against defendants. This research also reveals marginalization of defendants in an effort to balance justice retributively and restoratively. The study indicates that the defendants turned to be the target of victimization in the production of court verdicts, while in fact, the law should place all subjects in equal positions before the delivery of such consequential decisions.
... For example, integrative complexity has been directly tied to the reduction of social problems such as war (Suedfeld & Jhangiani, 2009;Suedfeld, Tetlock, & Ramirez, 1977;Tetlock, 1985; see Conway et al., 2001;Conway et al., 2018, for reviews), terrorism (Andrews Fearon & Boyd-MacMillan, 2016;Houck et al., 2018), and poor health . It has further been tied to constructs that are directly related to solving societal problems, such as political ideology (Conway et al., 2016a;Conway et al., 2016b;Houck & Conway, 2019;Suedfeld, 2010;Tetlock, 1983Tetlock, , 1984) and world leaders' success in gaining and keeping power (Conway et al., 2012;Suedfeld & Rank, 1976). ...
Article
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Computer algorithms that analyze language (natural language processing systems) have seen a great increase in usage recently. While use of these systems to score key constructs in social and political psychology has many advantages, it is also dangerous if we do not fully evaluate the validity of these systems. In the present article, we evaluate a natural language processing system for one particular construct that has implications for solving key societal issues: Integrative complexity. We first review the growing body of evidence for the validity of the Automated Integrative Complexity (AutoIC) method for computer-scoring integrative complexity. We then provide five new validity tests: AutoIC successfully distinguished fourteen classic philosophic works from a large sample of both lay populations and political leaders (Test 1) and further distinguished classic philosophic works from the rhetoric of Donald Trump at higher rates than an alternative system (Test 2). Additionally, AutoIC successfully replicated key findings from the hand-scored IC literature on smoking cessation (Test 3), U.S. Presidents’ State of the Union Speeches (Test 4), and the ideology-complexity relationship (Test 5). Taken in total, this large body of evidence not only suggests that AutoIC is a valid system for scoring integrative complexity, but it also reveals important theory-building insights into key issues at the intersection of social and political psychology (health, leadership, and ideology). We close by discussing the broader contributions of the present validity tests to our understanding of issues vital to natural language processing.
... However, the Supreme Court is hardly the only context in which political scientists are already studying speech. Countless other studies have examined political debates (Bayley 2004;Benoit 2013;Conway et al. 2012;Fridkin et al. 2007;Hart and Jarvis 1997;Thomas, Pang, and Lee 2006), campaign advertisements (Carlson and Montgomery 2017;Fridkin and Kenney 2011;Spiliotes and Vavreck 2002), campaign speech (Bligh et al. 2010;Degani 2015;Laver, Benoit, and Garry 2003;Olson et al. 2012;Schroedel et al. 2013), legislative speech (Herzog and Benoit 2015;Lauderdale and Herzog 2016;Proksch and Slapin 2012;Quinn et al. 2010;Schwarz, Traber, and Benoit 2017;Slapin and Proksch 2008), television news (Behr and Iyengar 1985;Mermin 1997;Oegema and Kleinnijenhuis 2000;Rozenas and Stukal 2019;Sanders and Gavin 2004;Semetko and Valkenburg 2000;Young and Soroka 2012), talk radio (Conroy-Krutz and Moehler 2015; Hofstetter et al. 1999;Ross 2016;Sobieraj and Berry 2011), and political addresses (Cohen 1995;Ritter and Howell 2001;Rule, Cointet, and Bearman 2015;Young and Perkins 2005). ...
Article
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Speech and dialogue are the heart of politics: nearly every political institution in the world involves verbal communication. Yet vast literatures on political communication focus almost exclusively on what words were spoken, entirely ignoring how they were delivered—auditory cues that convey emotion, signal positions, and establish reputation. We develop a model that opens this information to principled statistical inquiry: the model of audio and speech structure (MASS). Our approach models political speech as a stochastic process shaped by fixed and time-varying covariates, including the history of the conversation itself. In an application to Supreme Court oral arguments, we demonstrate how vocal tone signals crucial information—skepticism of legal arguments—that is indecipherable to text models. Results show that justices do not use questioning to strategically manipulate their peers but rather engage sincerely with the presented arguments. Our easy-to-use R package, communication , implements the model and many more tools for audio analysis.
... Participant Ideology. All participants further completed a standard two-item political conservatism scale, with items anchored by liberal/conservative and democratic/republican (e.g., Conway et al., 2012;Jost et al., 2008;Jost et al., 2003). In order to provide easy descriptive summaries, for Study 1 we converted this measurement to a dichotomous measure in a manner identical to prior research by considering people above the mid-point conservative and people below the midpoint liberal (people right at the mid-point were dropped for all analyses including this variable; n = 395 for those analyses, with 244 liberals and 151 conservatives). ...
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Is left-wing authoritarianism (LWA) closer to a myth or a reality? Twelve studies test the empirical existence and theoretical relevance of LWA. Study 1 reveals that both conservative and liberal Americans identify a large number of left-wing authoritarians in their lives. In Study 2, participants explicitly rate items from a recently-developed LWA measure as valid measurements of authoritarianism. Studies 3-11 show that persons who score high on this same LWA scale possess the traits associated with models of authoritarianism (while controlling for political ideology): LWA is positively related to threat sensitivity across multiple areas, including general ecological threats (Study 3), COVID disease threat (Study 4), Belief in a Dangerous World (Study 5), and Trump threat (Study 6). Further, controlling for ideology, high-LWA persons show more support for restrictive political correctness norms (Study 7), rate African-Americans and Jews more negatively (Studies 8-9), and show more domain-specific dogmatism and attitude strength (Study 10). Study 11 reveals that the majority of the effects from Studies 3-10 hold when looking only within liberals, thus revealing these effects are about liberal authoritarianism. Study 12 uses the World Values Survey to provide evidence of Left-Wing Authoritarianism around the globe. Taken in total, this large array of triangulating evidence from 12 studies comprised of over 8,000 participants from the U.S. and over 66,000 participants world-wide strongly suggests that left-wing authoritarianism is much closer to a reality than a myth.
... Participants were then asked to rate each candidate on a series of parallel trait rating scales drawn from prior work (e.g., Conway et al., 2012). We organized these by semantic meaning: Five questions pertained to honesty In order to produce an overall trait positivity rating that was unbiased by this semantic organization, we converted all sixteen trait rating items to z-scores and averaged them into a single trait positivity score for each candidate (alphas = .96). ...
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Donald Trump has consistently performed better politically than his negative polling indicators suggested he would. Although there is a tendency to think of Trump support as reflecting ideological conservatism, we argue that part of his support during the election came from a non-ideological source: The preponderant salience of norms restricting communication (Political Correctness – or PC – norms). This perspective suggests that these norms, while successfully reducing the amount of negative communication in the short term, may produce more support for negative communication in the long term. In this framework, support for Donald Trump was in part the result of over-exposure to PC norms. Consistent with this, on a sample of largely politically moderate Americans taken during the General Election in the Fall of 2016, we show that temporarily priming PC norms significantly increased support for Donald Trump (but not Hillary Clinton). We further show that chronic emotional reactance towards restrictive communication norms positively predicted support for Trump (but not Clinton), and that this effect remains significant even when controlling for political ideology. In total, this work provides evidence that norms that are designed to increase the overall amount of positive communication can actually backfire by increasing support for a politician who uses extremely negative language that explicitly violates the norm.
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While prior research has found linguistic complexity to be predictive across multiple domains, little research has examined how people perceive—or misperceive—linguistic complexity when they encounter it. Drawing from a model of the motivated ideological lens through which people view linguistic complexity, two studies examined the hypotheses that (a) participants are more likely to overestimate the complexity of political candidates when they believe they align with their own political views and (b) this complexity overestimation effect will be particularly strong for political liberals. Both studies presented participants with paragraphs from political candidates that varied in their actual integrative complexity levels and asked them to estimate the complexity of the paragraph. Consistent with expectations, Study 1 found that participants were significantly more likely to overestimate complexity levels for political candidates with whom they shared ideological beliefs and that this effect was particularly in evidence for political liberals. Study 2 replicated this basic pattern and further demonstrated that this effect was dependent on participants’ knowledge of their ideological agreement with the paragraph author. Because people misperceive linguistic complexity, researchers should move beyond thinking solely about how complex political rhetoric is; we have to also consider the degree that the intended audience may over- or underestimate complexity when they see it.
Chapter
Ambiguity and uncertainty are discomforting, even frightening, so people love simple and certain accounts of how the world works. This desire runs deep; and it can be useful. But it is also potentially dangerous for democracy. Democracy needs citizens who have the capacity to deal well with the complexity and ambiguity inherent in community life and governance. Unfortunately, democratic politics, particularly populist rhetoric, often appeals to, and thereby potentially nurtures, our love for and dependence on simple stories. Populist politics, while ostensibly democratic and empowering, may thus undercut the development of a capacity that the ethical and effective exercise of democratic power demands.
Chapter
I first define the strongest, most robust psychological factors, personality traits, and cognitive variables that compose the bottom-up substructure of political attitudes and ideologies. I then track and profile their interconnections and many multidirectional relationships, and compare them with the top-down “discursive superstructure” [Jost, Federico, & Napier, The Oxford handbook of political ideologies (pp. 232–250), 2013]. After I reject the notion of any role being played by unidimensional “intelligence” as it has been often defined—and nefariously misappropriated—I formulate the central model for the book: the External–Philosophy Dispositions–Attitudes Model. The core assumptions behind and expectations of the EPDAM are the comparatively, and somewhat ideologically, dependent associations and relationships within political orientations: (1) philosophy of government is more related to external (i.e., top-down) factors like demographics and more controllable traits like education, and (2) individual attitudes and attitude structures are more related to dispositional (i.e., bottom-up) factors like personality and non-conscious traits.
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The results of the 2016 presidential election left many political scholars perplexed. Why was Donald Trump elected and what was his appeal? Does he represent a new way of thinking or is he merely an extension of trends that have long been in place? The answer to some of these questions may be found in the language of political figures from Trump back to George Washington. The current project focuses on a central dimension of language that reveals the degree to which a person is relying on formal, logical, analytic thinking or more in-the-moment, informal, narrative thinking. Using text analytic methods, it is possible to identify at which point along an analytic-narrative continuum any speech or language sample falls. The analysis of speeches, debates, and various documents demonstrates that Trump stands out from other politicians as being very low in analytic thinking. However, he represents the next step in a trend wherein most Presidents and presidential candidates have been becoming less analytic. Trump may be an anomaly, but he is also a part of a long-developing presidential pattern.
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Objective Motivational interviewing (MI) is a widely used and promising treatment approach for aiding in smoking cessation. The present observational study adds to other recent research on why and when MI works by investigating a new potential mechanism: integrative complexity. Setting The study took place in college fraternity and sorority chapters at one large midwestern university. Participants Researchers transcribed MI counselling sessions from a previous randomised controlled trial focused on tobacco cessation among college students and subsequently scored clients’ and counsellors’ discussions across four counselling sessions for integrative complexity. Interventions This is an observational secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial that tested the effectiveness of MI. We analysed the relationship between integrative complexity and success at quitting smoking in the trial. Primary and secondary outcome measures Success in quitting smoking:Participants were categorised into two outcome groups (successful quitters vs failed attempters), created based on dichotomous outcomes on two standard variables: (1) self-reported attempts to quit and (2) number of days smoked via timeline follow-back assessment procedures that use key events in participants’ lives to prompt their recall of smoking. Results We found (1) significantly higher complexity overall for participants who tried to quit but failed compared with successful quitters (standardised β=0.36, p<0.001, (Lower Confidence Interval.)LCI=0.16, (Upper Confidence Interval) UCI=0.47) and (2) the predictive effect of complexity on outcome remains when controlling for standard motivational and demographic variables (partial r(102)=−0.23, p=0.022). Conclusions Taken together, these results suggest that cognitive complexity is uniquely associated with successful quitting in MI controlled trials, and thus may be an important variable to more fully explore during treatment.
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Although past research suggests authoritarianism may be a uniquely right-wing phenomenon, the present two studies tested the hypothesis that authoritarianism exists in both right-wing and left-wing contexts in essentially equal degrees. Across two studies, university (n = 475) and Mechanical Turk (n = 298) participants completed either the RWA (right-wing authoritarianism) scale or a newly developed (and parallel) LWA (left-wing authoritarianism) scale. Participants further completed measurements of ideology and three domain-specific scales: prejudice, dogmatism, and attitude strength. Findings from both studies lend support to an authoritarianism symmetry hypothesis: Significant positive correlations emerged between LWA and measurements of liberalism, prejudice, dogmatism, and attitude strength. These results largely paralleled those correlating RWA with identical conservative-focused measurements, and an overall effect-size measurement showed LWA was similarly related to those constructs (compared to RWA) in both Study 1 and Study 2. Taken together, these studies provide evidence that LWA may be a viable construct in ordinary U.S. samples.
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The ideological discourse of Jihadist groups like Al Qaeda or Islamic State is largely built on the use of persuasive techniques which act as instruments for radicalisation and recruitment, and more generally, “convince the audience of the veracity of the doctrine presented” ( Adam 2017 : 5). This article explores the use of metaphor as an important rhetorical and ideological dimension to jihadist texts. Current findings suggest that religious writings often make use of rich conceptual metaphors to convey distinctive ideological perspectives ( Prentice, Rayson and Taylor 2012 ), for instance, the well-known journey conceptual metaphor, with the image schemata of a path, leading towards a better life, reward in an afterlife, moral choice, hope, and a closeness to God ( Jäkel 2002 ). Specifically, the research adopts a Critical Metaphor Analysis framework ( Charteris-Black 2004 ), which combines Corpus Linguistics with Cognitive Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis. The data for this study is taken from a collection of jihadist online magazines. The corpus has been compared against the Qur’an in order to ascertain whether jihadist propaganda writers are inspired by conventional religious tropes as a way of giving authority to their doctrines. The results show that religiously inspired concepts do indeed help the writers to anchor their message to a deeply seated and authoritative set of ideologies. At the same time, semantic and pragmatic differences in the use of these metaphors suggest an ability to manipulate pre-existing conceptualisations in order to fulfil the communicative needs of the writers, i.e. to embody the principles of jihadism. The findings presented here focus on the following domains: religion as a journey ; light as good; heat as fighting; and spirituality as nature.
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Proponents of the walking simulator genre laud it for its complex storytelling. As Gohardani (2017) explains, walking simulators are "about dropping the player into an experience packed with … a compelling narrative" (para. 5). In order to more fully understand why this genre is so closely associated with storytelling and to provide insight into the underlying psychology of genre in video games, this article linguistically evaluates the narratives of walking simulators. It uses integrative complexity, a linguistic variable with an established research history, to compare the complexity of the writing in walking simulators to the writing in five mainstream video game genres (RPGs, shooters, action/adventure games, fighting games, and strategy games). Randomly sampling dialogue from 30 video games, a one-way ANOVA (analysis of variance) revealed no statistically significant linguistic differences between the genres. These results indicate that compelling and complex writing can be found in any genre and is likely not a function of any individual genre, contrary to popular opinion. This study provides a foundation for future researchers to build upon and continue the linguistic evaluation of walking simulators.
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Integrative complexity is a measure of the intellectual style used by individuals or groups in processing information, problem-solving, and decision making. Research generally shows that integratively complex thinkers are better able to reach mutually advantageous solutions to complex problems, although they may also be less likely to act when necessary. A substantial portion of the published research on integrative complexity comes from political scientists who have focused on examining linguistic distinctions across the liberal-conservative political spectrum. In this research, we assessed integrative complexity in a sample of news stories concerning natural disasters (hurricanes, wildfires and floods) from three television news networks that span the liberal-conservative spectrum. The results showed that the news coverage of the network considered to be more liberal in its reporting scored significantly higher in integrative complexity than the news coverage of the more conservative network. These findings align with previous research that has used integrative complexity as a dependent measure. We discuss the practical implications of these findings as they relate to the quality of decisions made by relevant officials that typically precedes and follows large-scale natural disasters.
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Researchers have long assumed that complex thinking is determined by both situational factors and stable, trait-based differences. However, although situational influences on complexity have been discussed at length in the literature, there is still no comprehensive integration of evidence regarding the theorized trait component of cognitive complexity. To fill this gap, we evaluate the degree that cognitive complexity is attributable to trait variance. Specifically, we review two domains of evidence pertaining to (a) the generalizability of individuals’ complex thinking across domains and the temporal stability of individuals’ complex thinking and (b) the relationship of complex thinking with conceptually related traits. Cumulatively, the literature suggests that persons’ cognitive complexity at any point in time results partially from a stable and generalizable trait component that accounts for a small-to-moderate amount of variance. It further suggests that cognitively complex persons are characterized by chronic trait-based differences in motivation and ability to think complexly.
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We investigated the viability of using an automated text analysis coding tool to measure cognitive complexity in terms of differentiation and integration. The sample consisted of senior (n = 20) and mid-level leaders (n = 11) within a Canadian post-secondary institution who participated in 60-min, semi-structured interviews discussing their perspectives on leadership. We found that leaders who expressed higher integration and lower differentiation were more likely to hold a senior leadership position. Among senior leaders, four years after their interview, those who expressed lower integration were more likely to turnover (90%) than those who expressed higher integration (40%). We introduce an automated text analysis coding tool as an alternative to repertory grid-based methods of measuring complexity. We discuss how this automated tool can measure differentiation and integration and how it can be used to develop theory in the cognitive complexity literature.
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Are U.S. political leaders becoming simpler in their rhetoric? To evaluate, we place the two most recent Presidents’ integrative complexity against a historical context for three different types of comparable materials. Results reveal that both Biden and Trump are simple when compared to the typical President. Further, segmented regression analyses reveal Biden's and Trump's low complexity is partially the continuation of an ongoing historical decline in complexity among Presidents. Importantly, this complexity decline is occurring for both Republicans and Democrats.
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From many perspectives, the election of Donald Trump was seen as a departure from long-standing political norms. An analysis of Trump’s word use in the presidential debates and speeches indicated that he was exceptionally informal but at the same time, spoke with a sense of certainty. Indeed, he is lower in analytic thinking and higher in confidence than almost any previous American president. Closer analyses of linguistic trends of presidential language indicate that Trump’s language is consistent with long-term linear trends, demonstrating that he is not as much an outlier as he initially seems. Across multiple corpora from the American presidents, non-US leaders, and legislative bodies spanning decades, there has been a general decline in analytic thinking and a rise in confidence in most political contexts, with the largest and most consistent changes found in the American presidency. The results suggest that certain aspects of the language style of Donald Trump and other recent leaders reflect long-evolving political trends. Implications of the changing nature of popular elections and the role of media are discussed.
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Individuals operating at complex and at simple levels of conceptual structure played a tactical game for three ½-hr. periods. There was a negative relationship between information input and subsequent information search. Conceptually simple Ss, while generally requesting more information, wanted feedback about ongoing events; complex Ss requested information about new aspects of the game.
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And the war began, that is, an event took place opposed to human reason and all human nature. (Tolstoy, cited in Huberman & Huberman, 1964, p. 391.) From the dawn of history down to the sinking of the Terris Bay, the world ech-oes with the praise of righteous war…I am almost tempted to reply to the Pacifist as Johnson replied to Goldsmith, "Nay Sir, if you will not take the universal opin-ion of mankind, I have no more to say. (C. S. Lewis, 1949, pp. 64–65.) As suggested by comparing the above reflections, a striking duality about war is that it is at once both seemingly aversive to humans and yet nearly universally accepted and practiced. Virtually all humans would agree that war is, if not inherently bad, at least highly disagreeable and the cause of much suffering. Indeed, the act of killing another human being—even in war—may 1 During the writing of this paper, Peter Suedfeld was a Visiting Scholar at the Mershon Center, The Ohio State University.
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This paper presents the results of indirect assessments of the personalities of Arizona senator John McCain and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, contenders for the Republican Party nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, from the conceptual perspective of personologist Theodore Millon. Information concerning Sen. McCain and Mayor Giuliani was collected from biographical sources and published reports and synthesized into personality profiles using the second edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM–IV. The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC manual. McCain’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dauntless/dissenting, with secondary features of the Outgoing/gregarious and Dominant/controlling patterns. Giuliani’s primary personality pattern was found to be Dominant/aggressive, with secondary features of the Conscientious/dutiful and Ambitious/confident patterns. The combination of Dauntless and Outgoing patterns in McCain’s profile suggests a risk-taking adventurer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are characteristically bold, fearless, sensation seeking, and driven by a need to prove their mettle. The combination of Dominant and Conscientious patterns in Giuliani’s profile suggests an aggressive enforcer personality composite. Leaders with this personality prototype are tough, uncompromising, and believe they have a moral duty to punish and control those who deviate from socially sanctioned norms. McCain’s major personality strengths in a leadership role are the important personality-based political skills of independence, persuasiveness, and courage, coupled with a socially responsive, outgoing tendency that can be instrumental in connecting with critical constituencies for mobilizing support and implementing policy initiatives. His major personality-based limitation is a predisposition to impulsiveness, one manifestation of which is a deficit of emotional restraint. Giuliani’s major personality strength in a leadership role is a forceful, commanding personality style that permits him to take charge in times of crisis and inspire public confidence. His major personality-based limitation is a tendency to control and punish, which may foster divisiveness and animosity. The major implication of the study is that it offers an empirically based personological framework for anticipating the candidates’ respective leadership styles as chief executive, thus providing a basis for inferring the character and tenor of a prospective McCain or Giuliani presidency.
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By incorporating emotionality, we propose to enrich information-processing models of citizens' behavior during election campaigns. We demonstrate that two distinct dynamic emotional responses play influential roles during election campaigns. Feelings of anxiety, responsive to threat and novelty, stimulate attention toward the campaign, political learning and decreased reliance on habitual cues for voting. Feelings of enthusiasm powerfully influence candidate preferences and increase interest and involvement in the campaign. The findings support a theoretical perspective that regards cognitive and emotional processes as mutually engaged and mutually supportive rather than as antagonistic. We suggest that the democratic process may not be undermined by emotionality as is generally presupposed. Instead, we believe that people use emotions as tools for efficient information-processing and thus enhance their abilities to engage in meaningful political deliberation.
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Diplomatic communications during international crises that resulted in war (1914 and 1950) and crises that were settled peacefully (1911, 1948, 1962) were scored for integrative complexity. This is a dimension of information processing characterized at one pole by simple responses, gross distinctions, rigidity, and restricted information usage, and at the other by complexity, fine distinctions, flexibility, and extensive information search and usage. Complexity of the messages produced by governmental leaders was significantly lower in crises that ended in war. As the crisis approached its climax, complexity declined in 1914 and increased in 1962. The results demonstrate the usefulness of information processing complexity, which can be measured objectively in a wide range of materials, for analyzing political and diplomatic events.
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Within-nation cultural variation across regions provides a largely untapped resource for examining cross- cultural relations usually studied at the international level. The current study examines the relations of collectivism, helping behavior with strangers, and pace of life across regions of the United States. The study shows that within-nation cultural variation can be used both to (a) cross-validate findings generated at the international level, findings that are otherwise exceedingly difficult to cross-validate, and to (b) generate new findings. The current study provides cross-validation for the previously reported negative relation at the international level between collectivism and a faster pace of life. The study also provides evidence that in the context of helping strangers, collectivism is negatively associated with certain types of helping behavior. In particular collectivism was negatively associated with the “planned” (as opposed to “spontaneous”) and “giving” (as opposed to “doing”) types of helping.
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To complement previous work on Western leaders' psychological response to the 9/11 crisis, the present study evaluated Middle Eastern leaders' integrative complexity throughout the crisis. Integrative complexi- ty is the degree that persons recognize the validity of multiple dimensions and subse- quently relate those dimensions to each other. The public communications of central leaders from nine Middle Eastern nations /organizations were coded for integrative complexity across five different phases of the crisis. Results indicated that, for the majority of Middle Eastern leaders in the study, integrative complexity dropped mar- kedly immediately after 9/11, and then rose steadily, peaking during the U.S. counter- attack on Afghanistan. These results suggest that, despite playing largely peripheral roles in the crisis, Middle Eastern leaders were nonetheless substantially psychologically impacted by the events precipitated by the 9/11 attacks.
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Recent work in conversation analysis suggests that audience responses to political speeches are strongly influenced by the rhetorical construction of political messages. This paper shows that seven basic rhetorical formats were associated with nearly 70% of the applause produced in response to 476 political speeches to British party political conferences in 1981. The relationship between rhetoric and response is broadly independent of political party, the political status of th speaker, and the popularity of the message. Performance factors are found to influence the likelihood of audience response strongly.
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Used content analysis to assess the conceptual or integrative complexity of pre- and post-election policy statements of 20th-century American presidents. Two hypotheses were tested. According to the impression management hypothesis, presidents present issues in deliberately simplistic ways during election campaigns but in more complex ways upon assuming office when they face the necessity of justifying sometimes unpopular decisions to skeptical constituencies. According to the cognitive adjustment hypothesis, presidents gradually become more complex in their thinking during their tenure in office as they become increasingly familiar with high-level policy issues. Results support only the impression management position. The complexity of presidential policy statements increased sharply immediately after inauguration but did not increase with length of time in office. Complexity of policy statements also significantly declined in reelection years. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Tested the value pluralism model, which asserts that people are likely to think about an issue domain in integratively complex ways to the degree that issue domain activates conflicting values that people perceive as (a) important and (b) approximately equally important. The relations between the value hierarchies endorsed by 145 undergraduates (measured by the Rokeach Value Survey) and the policy preferences they expressed on issues designed to activate conflicts between different pairs of basic social/political values (e.g., the question of whether one is willing to pay higher taxes to assist the poor activates a conflict between concern for personal prosperity and social equality). Regression analyses revealed that (a) policy preferences could be best predicted from knowledge of which of the conflicting values Ss deemed more important and (b) the integrative complexity of people's reasoning about policy issues could be best predicted from knowledge of the similarity of the importance rankings of the conflicting values, the mean importance ranking of the 2 conflicting values, and the interaction of these 2 terms. It is concluded that the value pluralism model provides a flexible theoretical framework for predicting Ideology Issue interactions in both the content and structure of policy reasoning. (43 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Extended previous research (e.g., P. Suedfeld and D. Rank; see record 1976-28071-001) that focused on the relationship between environmental stress and information processing complexity in the context of political and international decision-making. The personal correspondence of 5 eminent British novelists (e.g., George Eliot) was scored for integrative complexity. Multiple regression analysis showed that integrative complexity was negatively related to intensity of war but positively related to civil unrest. It is suggested that the information flow in the environment is an influential factor in determining individuals' responses to societal conflict. Integrative complexity decreased during illness, was unrelated to other stressful life events, and increased with age. An unexpected finding was that integrative complexity decreased in the few years prior to death. This phenomenon may be linked to previous research showing marked performance decrements among individuals shortly before death. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The habitual way people explain causes (explanatory style) as assessed by questionnaire has been used to predict depression, achievement, and health with a pessimistic style predicting poor outcomes. Because some individuals whose behavior is of interest cannot take questionnaires, their explanatory style can be assessed by blind, reliable content analysis of verbatim explanations (CAVE) from the historical record. We discuss three examples of CAVing archival material. First, shifts to a more optimistic style in Lyndon Johnson's press conferences predicted bold, risky action during the Vietnam War, whereas shifts to pessimism predicted passivity. Second, analyses of presidential candidates' nomination acceptance speeches from 1948 to 1984 showed that candidates who were more pessimistically ruminative lost 9 of the 10 elections. Third, explanatory style and its relation to depressive signs was considered at a societal level. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Used the integrative complexity coding system to analyze official American and Soviet foreign policy statements concerned with problems that bore directly on American-Soviet relations issued between 1945 and 1983. Time series (ARIMA) and 2-stage least squares analyses revealed that the integrative complexity of Soviet statements was a function of Soviet complexity levels in the past, American complexity levels in the present, Soviet military or political interventions in other countries, the successful culmination of American-Soviet negotiations, and American presidential elections. The integrative complexity of American statements was a function of American complexity levels in the past, Soviet complexity levels in the past, presidential elections, changes in presidential administrations, Soviet military or political interventions in other countries, American military or political interventions in other countries, and the successful culmination of American-Soviet negotiations. Findings are interpreted in terms of 2 complementary levels of analysis: the study of cognitive processes and the study of bargaining and impression management strategies. (77 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Common sense recognizes emotion's ability to influence judgments. We argue that affective processes, in addition to generating feeling states, also influence how political cognition is manifested. Drawing on the theory of affective intelligence, we examine the role that anxiety plays in how and when people rely on predispositions and when they rely on contemporaneous information in making political tolerance judgments. We report on two experimental studies to test our arguments. In the first study we find that extrinsic anxiety generates a resistance response among subjects who hold a strong predisposition and a receptive response among those who do not. In the second study we present subjects with explicit “frames” exposing them to a pro- or anti-free speech message. We find that extrinsic anxiety enhances responsiveness to frames while an absence of anxiety diminishes the impact of these frames. Taken together these results show that affective processes shape how people make political judgments.
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The personalities of President Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole were indirectly assessed from the conceptual perspective of Theodore Millon. Information pertaining to Bill Clinton and Bob Dole was collected from published biographical material and synthesized into personality profiles using Millon's diagnostic criteria. President Clinton was found to be primarily Asserting/self-promoting and Outgoing/ gregarious, whereas Senator Dole emerged from the assessment as primarily Controlling/dominant and Conforming/dutiful. A dimensional reconceptualization of the results to examine convergences among the present Millon-based findings, Simonton's dimensions of presidential style, and the five-factor model suggests that Clinton is predominantly charismatic/extraverted, whereas Dole is deliberative/conscientious and relatively low on interpersonality/agreeableness. The profile for Bill Clinton is consistent with a presidency troubled by ethical questions and lapses of judgment, and provides an explanatory framework for Clinton's high achievement drive and his ability to retain a following and maintain his self-confidence in the face of adversity.
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The present study examines the personalities and psychological states of the 2004 candidates for U.S. president and vice president through their use of words. The transcripts of 271 televised interviews, press conferences, and campaign debates of John Kerry, John Edwards, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney between January 4 and November 3, 2004 were analyzed using a computerized text analysis program. Distinct linguistic styles were found among these four political candidates, as well as differences between political parties and candidate types. Drawing on previous research linking word use and personality characteristics, the results suggest that the candidates had unique linguistic styles variously associated with cognitive complexity, femininity, depression, aging, presidentiality, and honesty.
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An integrative complexity coding system was used to explore the relations between cognitive style and political ideology among US Supreme Court justices who served on the Court between 1964 and 1978. The integrative complexity of case opinions that Ss authored during their 1st terms on the Court and the overall liberalism–conservatism of their voting records throughout their tenure were assessed. Consistent with past work on cognitive style and political ideology, Ss with liberal and moderate voting records exhibited more integratively complex styles of thought in their early case opinions than did those with conservative voting records. Unexpectedly, these relationships between cognitive style and ideology were more powerful on cases involving economic conflicts of interest than on cases involving civil liberties and rights issues. Results remain significant after controlling for a variety of demographic and background characteristics of the Ss (e.g., age, religion, quality of law school attended) and characteristics of the judicial opinions scored for integrative complexity (unanimous or split-Court, majority–minority status of opinion). Possible explanations for the results and processes that limit the cross-issue generality of relationships between cognitive style and ideology are discussed. (60 ref)
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Obtained all extant presidential addresses of the American Psychological Association (APA) as they appeared in Psychological Review from 1894–1938, Psychological Bulletin until 1946, and American Psychologist from 1946–1981. Five paragraphs from the beginning and the end of each of the 85 addresses were scored for integrative complexity, a factor defined by the degree of differentiation and integration of dimensions along which information is processed. Data indicate that, as in previous studies, complexity was lower when the US was engaged in a war. This predicted effect of societal stress was not found in times of economic difficulty nor during US presidential election years. APA presidents who were judged as particularly eminent by senior colleagues gave addresses higher in complexity; there was no difference as a function of other types of eminence ratings nor objective measures (publication and citation counts). No sex or age differences were found, but there was a positive correlation between complexity and the number of years of life remaining to the individual. An examination of professional orientation indicated that a tendency away from conventional scientific rigor was associated with higher complexity. (28 ref)
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Politicians routinely appeal to the emotions of voters, a practice critics claim subverts the rational decision making on which democratic processes properly rest. But we know little about how emotional appeals actually influence voting behavior. This study demonstrates, for the first time, that political ads can change the way citizens get involved and make choices simply by using images and music to evoke emotions. Prior research suggests voters behave differently in different emotional states but has not established whether politicians can use campaigns to manipulate emotions and thereby cause changes in political behavior. This article uses two experiments conducted during an actual election to show that: (1) cueing enthusiasm motivates participation and activates existing loyalties; and (2) cueing fear stimulates vigilance, increases reliance on contemporary evaluations, and facilitates persuasion. These results suggest campaigns achieve their goals in part by appealing to emotions, and emotional appeals can promote democratically desirable behavior.
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Many scholars view integratively complex reasoning as either cognitively or morally superior to integratively simple reasoning. This value judgment is, however, too simple to capture the complex, subtle, and even paradoxical linkages between integrative complexity and "good judgment" in historical context. Our case studies add to the growing literature on this topic by assessing the integrative and cognitive complexity of policy statements that Winston Churchill and his political adversaries made during two key foreign policy debates of the 1930s-the appeasement of Nazi Germany (where contemporary opinion overwhelmingly favors Churchill) and the granting of self-government to India (where contemporary opinion overwhelmingly favors Churchill's opponents). In both private and public, Churchill expressed less integratively complex but more cognitively complex opinions than did his opponents on both Nazi Germany and self-government for India. The results illustrate (a) impressive consistency in Churchill's integrative but not cognitive complexity in both private and public communications over time and issue domains, and (b) the dependence of normative judgments of styles of thinking on speculative counterfactual reconstructions of history and on moral-political values. We close by arguing that, although integrative complexity can be maladaptive in specific decision-making settings, it can still be highly adaptive at the meta-decision-making level where leaders "decide how to decide." Good judgment requires the ability to shift from simple to complex modes of processing in timely and appropriate ways.
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President Clinton's leadership has been criticized as being too indecisive, overly flexible, and lacking in a firm commitment to valued goals. Although such characteristics imply an excessively high level of cognitive complexity, the scoring of Clinton's utterances during the 1992 campaign and during the first eight months of his administration reveals that his integrative complexity is generally very low compared to a group of other recent presidents of the U.S. Unlike most, he showed no increase in complexity after his election. This pattern, reflecting faulty cognitive management of resources applied to problem solving, is similar to those of unsuccessful presidents (Nixon, Carter, Harding, and Hoover) and failed (as opposed to successful) revolutionary leaders. The possible sources, meanings, and implications of this finding are discussed.
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Two studies examined the relationship between the rated charisma of US presidents and their frequency of use of metaphors in inaugural addresses. In the first study, the incidence of metaphors was recorded from the first-term inaugural addresses of 36 presidents (17 high charisma; 19 low charisma). Charismatic presidents used nearly twice as many metaphors (adjusted for speech length) than non-charismatic presidents. In the second study, judges rated the passages from the speeches that they found most inspirational. Results suggested that metaphors are important for inspiring audience members. This work increases our understanding of the process by which charismatic leaders inspire and motivate followers.
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UN General Assembly speeches concerning the Middle East conflict made by representatives of Israel, Arab countries (Egypt and Syria), the USA, and the USSR were scored for integrative complexity. Speeches were sampled from twenty years between 1947 and 1976. Complexity of information-processing was significantly reduced in speeches made in months preceding the outbreak of war (1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973), except in the case of the USSR. Israel, which with the United States exhibited the highest levels of complexity during peacetime, showed the greatest reductions prior to war. The low level of complexity characteristic of Israeli and Arab speeches during 1976 may reflect the escalation of the Lebanese civil war or may be a predictor of a major outbreak of hostilities in the near future.
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Previous archival analyses of governmental communications show a decrease in integrative complexity prior to the outbreak of war between nations. No such decrease is found when a conflict is resolved through peaceful negotiation. Integrative complexity is a structural measure, based on the source's recognition of alternative perspectives and several dimensions (differentiation), and the combination of these perspectives and dimensions in synthesized solutions (integration). The current study, using documents from nine international crises in the twentieth century that culminated in a surprise attack, found that the attackers showed a decline in complexity between three months and two to four weeks before the attack. The attacked nations increased in complexity between two to four weeks and one week, dropping to approximately the same level as the attacker on and immediately after the day of the attack. A drop in the integrative complexity of the communications issued by an opposing government thus may be one predictor of imminent strategic surprise.
Article
The Gulf War and the crisis that led up to it provide an extremely useful laboratory for social scientists to test their hypotheses about crisis behavior. In this study the authors measure a structural attribute of leaders' utterances—their integrative complexity—before, during, and after the crisis and war to determine its association with behavior. They discovered that changes in integrative complexity provided a good early warning indicator of the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, and that later changes were closely associated with the fortunes of war for the Coalition and Iraqi forces. It was also found that “dovish” leaders showed higher levels of complexity than “hawkish” ones, that supreme commanders' utterances were less complex than those of their subordinates, and that complexity was not associated with region, language, or religion. Overall, the findings strongly confirm the general proposistion that reductions in the integrative complexity of leaders' communications provide a useful indicator of the presence of disruptive stress during a crisis.
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Two psychological variables, pessimistic explanatory style and rumination about bad events, combine to predict depression and susceptibility to helplessness. We hypothesized that these variables should also predict the appeal of a presidential candidate's message, and analyzed pessimistic rumination in Democratic and Republican nomination acceptance speeches from 1948 to 1984. A blind, reliable content analysis showed that the candidate who was more a pessimistic ruminator lost 9 of 10 times, and the victory margin was proportional to the difference between the candidates in pessimistic rumination. This was not due to a poor showing in the polls at nomination leading both to pessimistic rumination and defeat: Partialing out incumbency and standing in the polls around the time of nomination, the pessimistic rumination difference correlated with the victory margin (partial r = .89, p < .01). This basic finding was replicated for 1900 to 1944: The pessimistic ruminator lost 9 of 12 elections, and the difference in pessimistic rumination correlated with the size of the loss (r = .71). Three mechanisms are proposed by which pessimistic ruminators should lose: (a) voter aversion to depressive personalities, (b) the appeal to voters of hope, and (c) candidate passivity. As evidence for the third mechanism, pessimistic ruminators make fewer stops per day on the campaign trail. These results suggest that the American voter, across historical period, places a high premium on the appearance of hope.
Article
32 undergraduates of simple and 32 of complex conceptual structure participated as decision-making dyads in an experimental simulation. The dyads were exposed to increasing failure or increasing success. The effect of failure and success on Ss' estimates of causality for their "current situation" and its effect on interpersonal attitude within the group were investigated. It was found that Ss take increasingly more credit for success as success increases, but do not take similar credit for increasing failure. It was found that attitudes toward other group members become more favorable when the group is credited with success. Attitudes remain constant when causality attributions show constancy (failure). The effect of success and failure on attribution of causality, and with it the effect on attitudes, was more pronounced for simple than for complex Ss. (33 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Summarizes psychological (personality) research that utilizes the archival records of Canadian prime ministers to focus on 2 types of variables: cognitive (integrative complexity) and motivational (motive imagery). In doing so, the authors trace scholarly output, political events, and related findings. Levels of complexity are discussed in relation to political crises and ideological differences. This chapter also evaluates research that relates levels of complexity and motive imagery to electoral success. A variety of causal factors related to expert ratings of prestige and accomplishment for Canadian prime ministers are discussed and research is presented on associations between levels of complexity and prestige scores. Although the authors observe that the determination of precise factors capable of predicting leadership success is a complex process, they acknowledge that some reliable correlates have emerged. Finally, the authors note that it has become clear that research must deal with a specific structural and cultural context and that these multidimensional systems will benefit by the expansion and application of variables that seek to measure social competence, personality, and the congruence between leader policy and public demand. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This chapter is followed by a scoring manual for conceptual/integrative complexity by Gloria Baker-Brown, Elizabeth J. Ballard, Susan Bluck, Brian de Vries, Peter Suedfeld and Philip E. Tetlock. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)