Inferring the mental state of influencers

D. B. Skillicorn, C. Leuprecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


© 2013, Springer-Verlag Wien. Most analysis of influence examines the mechanisms used, and their effectiveness on the intended audience. Here, we consider influence from another perspective: what does the choice in the language of influencers signal about their internal mental state, strategies and assessments of success? We do this by examining the language used by the US presidential candidates in the high-stakes attempt to get elected. Such candidates try to influence potential voters, but must also pay attention to the parallel attempts by their competitors to influence the same pool. We examine channels: nouns, as surrogates for content; adjectives, verbs, and adverbs as modifiers of discussion of the same pool of ideas from different perspectives, positive and negative language; and persona deception, the use of language to present oneself as better than the reality. Several intuitive and expected hypotheses are supported, but some unexpected and surprising structures also emerge. The results provide insights into related influence scenarios where open-source data are available, e.g., marketing, business reporting, and intelligence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-595
Number of pages31
JournalSocial Network Analysis and Mining
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2013


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