A Double Standard? Gender Bias in Voters' Perceptions of Political Arguments

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Do the styles politicians use influence how voters evaluate them, and does this matter more for women than for men? Politicians regularly use anecdotal arguments, emotional appeals and aggressive attacks when communicating with voters. However, that women politicians have been branded as ‘nasty’, ‘inhuman’ and ‘unfeminine’ suggests that these strategies may come at a price for some. I report on a novel survey experiment assessing whether voters are biased in their perceptions and evaluations of politicians' communication styles. By manipulating politician gender and argument style, I assess, first, whether politicians incur backlash when violating gender-based stereotypes and, secondly, whether differential perceptions of the styles themselves explain this backlash. I find that style usage has important consequences for how voters evaluate politicians but that this is not gendered. These results have important implications, as they suggest that women politicians may not need to conform to stereotype-expected behaviours in order to receive positive voter evaluations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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