The Strategic Use of Counterfactual Communication in Politics

Patrizia Catellani, Venusia Covelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While counterfactual thinking has been widely investigated, we know much less about how counterfactual ("If ... then") statements are employed in political communication. We analysed statements made by politicians during pre-electoral televised broadcasts, to assess whether politicians employ counterfactuals in facework. Counterfactuals were coded according to their direction, controllability, and structure. Log-linear analysis revealed that upward, controllable, and additive counterfactuals were more frequent than downward, uncontrollable, and subtractive counterfactuals, respectively. A significant three-way interaction between target, direction, and controllability also emerged. While politicians more often employed upward controllable counterfactuals when speaking about targets other than themselves, they more often used downward controllable and upward uncontrollable counterfactuals when referring to themselves. These findings advance our knowledge of how counterfactuals are employed by politicians to promote their positive face and aggravate the face of adversaries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-489
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

Fingerprint

Politics
politician
politics
communication
political communication
broadcast
speaking
Direction compound
Communication
interaction
Politicians

Keywords

  • counterfactual communication
  • facework
  • political discourse
  • self-presentation
  • televised broadcasts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Language and Linguistics

Cite this

The Strategic Use of Counterfactual Communication in Politics. / Catellani, Patrizia; Covelli, Venusia.

In: Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Vol. 32, No. 4, 09.2012, p. 480-489.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Catellani, Patrizia ; Covelli, Venusia. / The Strategic Use of Counterfactual Communication in Politics. In: Journal of Language and Social Psychology. 2012 ; Vol. 32, No. 4. pp. 480-489.
@article{13ed12a5667541b4bca7eb262fb27640,
title = "The Strategic Use of Counterfactual Communication in Politics",
abstract = "While counterfactual thinking has been widely investigated, we know much less about how counterfactual ({"}If ... then{"}) statements are employed in political communication. We analysed statements made by politicians during pre-electoral televised broadcasts, to assess whether politicians employ counterfactuals in facework. Counterfactuals were coded according to their direction, controllability, and structure. Log-linear analysis revealed that upward, controllable, and additive counterfactuals were more frequent than downward, uncontrollable, and subtractive counterfactuals, respectively. A significant three-way interaction between target, direction, and controllability also emerged. While politicians more often employed upward controllable counterfactuals when speaking about targets other than themselves, they more often used downward controllable and upward uncontrollable counterfactuals when referring to themselves. These findings advance our knowledge of how counterfactuals are employed by politicians to promote their positive face and aggravate the face of adversaries.",
keywords = "counterfactual communication, facework, political discourse, self-presentation, televised broadcasts",
author = "Patrizia Catellani and Venusia Covelli",
year = "2012",
month = "9",
doi = "10.1177/0261927X13495548",
language = "English",
volume = "32",
pages = "480--489",
journal = "Journal of Language and Social Psychology",
issn = "0261-927X",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Strategic Use of Counterfactual Communication in Politics

AU - Catellani, Patrizia

AU - Covelli, Venusia

PY - 2012/9

Y1 - 2012/9

N2 - While counterfactual thinking has been widely investigated, we know much less about how counterfactual ("If ... then") statements are employed in political communication. We analysed statements made by politicians during pre-electoral televised broadcasts, to assess whether politicians employ counterfactuals in facework. Counterfactuals were coded according to their direction, controllability, and structure. Log-linear analysis revealed that upward, controllable, and additive counterfactuals were more frequent than downward, uncontrollable, and subtractive counterfactuals, respectively. A significant three-way interaction between target, direction, and controllability also emerged. While politicians more often employed upward controllable counterfactuals when speaking about targets other than themselves, they more often used downward controllable and upward uncontrollable counterfactuals when referring to themselves. These findings advance our knowledge of how counterfactuals are employed by politicians to promote their positive face and aggravate the face of adversaries.

AB - While counterfactual thinking has been widely investigated, we know much less about how counterfactual ("If ... then") statements are employed in political communication. We analysed statements made by politicians during pre-electoral televised broadcasts, to assess whether politicians employ counterfactuals in facework. Counterfactuals were coded according to their direction, controllability, and structure. Log-linear analysis revealed that upward, controllable, and additive counterfactuals were more frequent than downward, uncontrollable, and subtractive counterfactuals, respectively. A significant three-way interaction between target, direction, and controllability also emerged. While politicians more often employed upward controllable counterfactuals when speaking about targets other than themselves, they more often used downward controllable and upward uncontrollable counterfactuals when referring to themselves. These findings advance our knowledge of how counterfactuals are employed by politicians to promote their positive face and aggravate the face of adversaries.

KW - counterfactual communication

KW - facework

KW - political discourse

KW - self-presentation

KW - televised broadcasts

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84887338464&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84887338464&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/0261927X13495548

DO - 10.1177/0261927X13495548

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84887338464

VL - 32

SP - 480

EP - 489

JO - Journal of Language and Social Psychology

JF - Journal of Language and Social Psychology

SN - 0261-927X

IS - 4

ER -