The mental state of influencers

D. B. Skillicorn, C. Leuprecht

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Most analysis of influence looks at the mechanisms used, and how effectively they work on the intended audience. Here we consider influence from another perspective: what do the language choices made by influencers enable us to detect about their internal mental state, strategies and assessments of success. We do this by examining the language used by the U.S. 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 seven channels: persona deception, the attempt by each candidate to seem as attractive as possible; nouns, as surrogates for content; positive and negative language; and three categories that have received little attention, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. Although the results are preliminary, 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 is available, for example marketing, business reporting, and intelligence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2012 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining, ASONAM 2012
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2012

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