Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Optimism Experts Handicap The Presidential Election With About 6 Weeks Remaining Until Nov. 4

Date:
September 29, 2008
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
Researchers have determined that the most optimistic candidates win more than 80 percent of presidential elections dating back to 1900. A new study measures the optimism of this year's candidates.

With less than six weeks until the general election, a University of Pennsylvania study analyzing the relative optimism of the 2008 presidential and vice presidential candidates has found Barack Obama and John McCain to be equally optimistic and Sarah Palin slightly more optimistic than Joseph Biden.

Researchers have determined that the most optimistic candidates win more than 80 percent of presidential elections dating back to 1900. How optimism confers this electoral advantage is unclear, but Penn psychologists believe optimistic candidates inspire hope in the electorate and try harder, particularly when faced with a challenge.

The study, conducted by researchers from Penn’s Positive Psychology Center, analyzed speeches given at the Saddleback Forum on Faith and the candidates’ respective convention acceptance speeches to determine levels of optimism.

“Although our initial report suggests this election is too close to call, shifts in optimism and rhetoric over the next few weeks may very well predict which side emerges as the victor,” Stephen Schueller, lead analyst on the project and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology at Penn, said.

As a group, the vice-presidential candidates are less optimistic than the presidential candidates, with Biden by far the most pessimistic of the four.

In addition, Republican candidates, according to the study, show a higher level of internality when explaining positive events and a lower level of internality when explaining negative events. Put simply, they accept credit for good events and blame others as the cause for negative outcomes.

While speeches analyzed for the study were scripted, more instances of impromptu speech — such as the debates — can provide additional material to look for shifts and changes in optimism as the election draws.

“With news of the national economic crisis, the upcoming weeks will provide further material to draw from because attributions about economic matters offer a rich source of data,” Andrew Rosenthal, project coordinator with the Positive Psychology Center, said.

The first stage of this multi-part study established baseline optimism ratings for each candidate as of this month, to be used to gauge and compare optimism levels throughout the remainder of the campaign. Additional stages will include analysis of candidates’ statements on specific issues and events. Analysis will be performed on three dimensions: absolute optimism and pessimism (where does the candidate fall on a numerical scale), comparison between candidates (where does the candidate fall in relation to other candidates) and relative optimism and pessimism (how the candidate compares with the initial baseline figure).

Researchers were trained in Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations, an analysis tool created by Penn’s Positive Psychology Center. CAVE extracts and analyzes causal statements for positive or negative connotation, as well as three dimensions of causality: whether the speaker attributes the cause of an event to an outside force or takes responsibility, whether the cause of an event is more or less likely to happen again and how many areas of public policy or segments of the population the cause will affect.

Members of the Positive Psychology Center at Penn, founded by Martin Seligman, have conducted these studies for more than 20 years. This year’s study is also part of a larger project conducted in partnership with Sensory Logic Inc., a Minneapolis-based company with a proprietary methodology that assesses emotional engagement and focus on a second-by-second basis using facial muscles and combinations of muscle activities.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "Optimism Experts Handicap The Presidential Election With About 6 Weeks Remaining Until Nov. 4." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080926105031.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2008, September 29). Optimism Experts Handicap The Presidential Election With About 6 Weeks Remaining Until Nov. 4. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080926105031.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "Optimism Experts Handicap The Presidential Election With About 6 Weeks Remaining Until Nov. 4." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080926105031.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bank of America's $17 Bln Settlement

Bank of America's $17 Bln Settlement

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 21, 2014) Bank of America's settlement is by far the largest amount paid by big banks facing mortgage securities probes. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Families Can Now Ask Twitter To Remove Photos Of Deceased

Families Can Now Ask Twitter To Remove Photos Of Deceased

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) In the wake of a high-profile harassment case, Twitter says family members can ask for photos of dying or dead relatives to be taken down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Reasons Why Teen Birth Rates Are At An All-Time Low

Reasons Why Teen Birth Rates Are At An All-Time Low

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A CDC report says birth rates among teenagers have been declining for decades, reaching a new low in 2013. We look at several popular explanations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins