Power through 'Us': leaders' use of we-referencing language predicts election victory

Steffens, Niklas K. and Haslam, S. Alexander (2013) Power through 'Us': leaders' use of we-referencing language predicts election victory. PLoS One, 8 10: e77952.1-e77952.6. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077952

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Author Steffens, Niklas K.
Haslam, S. Alexander
Title Power through 'Us': leaders' use of we-referencing language predicts election victory
Journal name PLoS One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2013-10-23
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0077952
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 8
Issue 10
Start page e77952.1
End page e77952.6
Total pages 6
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Leaders have been observed to use distinct rhetorical strategies, but it is unclear to what extent such strategies are effective. To address this issue we analyzed the official election campaign speeches of successful and unsuccessful Prime Ministerial candidates in all 43 Australian Federal elections since independence from Britain in 1901 and measured candidates' use of personal (‘I’, ‘me’) and collective pronouns (‘we’, ‘us’). Victors used more collective pronouns than their unsuccessful opponents in 80% of all elections. Across all elections, victors made 61% more references to ‘we’ and ‘us’ and used these once every 79 words (vs. every 136 words for losers). Extending social identity theorizing, this research suggests that electoral endorsement is associated with leaders' capacity to engage with, and speak on behalf of, a collective identity that is shared with followers whose support and energies they seek to mobilize.
Keyword Leadership
Leader rhetoric
Political leadership
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID FL110100199
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 10 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 13 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sat, 26 Oct 2013, 20:03:07 EST by Niklas Steffens on behalf of School of Psychology