Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Rachel DiCioccio

Abstract

Political disagreement, both interpersonally and universally, undermines the prospect of a central ideological meeting point. While there is much research to connect individual traits with political preference, less exists on the ways in which these differences might be alleviated. Particularly, more must be done to scrutinize the specific language we use and the persuasive effects that it carries. This study utilizes moral language preferable by either Conservatives or Liberals in a persuasive experiment designed to persuade Liberals and Conservatives respectively to favor an issue of the opposing political party. A 2x3 experimental design presented respondents with an issue that their party would not typically agree with, using moral language that they would. The experiment designed to persuade Conservatives used both loyalty and purity language, while the experiment designed to persuade Liberals used fairness language. Results indicate that differences in political preference were significant, and that fairness language (i.e. justice, equality, opportunity) was most effective in persuading both Republican and Democratic respondents on the issues of making English the official language of the United States, and universal health care. Both purity and loyalty frames were not found to be significant. Implications and future considerations are discussed.

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