A Psycholinguistic Study of Political Rhetoric of Fear

  •  Badriah Khalid Al-Gublan    
  •  Linda J. Rice    


Political campaigns are dynamic struggles between candidates to define the informational context for voters. Early studies (Kaid, 1981, 1994a, 1994b) suggested that political advertising has cognitive and behavioral effects on voters. It communicates the brand promise of a candidate blending functional and emotional benefits that voters gain from their relationships with a candidate.

This study, based on Lakoff’s Framing Model (LFM, 2004), proposes a pragmatic model for the analysis of a political election rhetoric. Within this pragmatic model, it is shown that in such a rhetoric the process of choosing variables of mental and psychological strategies is used. Such a process can be understood as the outcome of producers’ choice making, dynamic negotiation and linguistic adaptation. The analysis of a political discourse makes it possible to see how frames are powerful rhetorical entities that motivate audience to filter their perceptions of the world. It presents evidences to the claim that a candidate’s speech using ‘rhetoric of fear’ appeals to the audience. Contradicted reactions appear: some audience react feeling ‘fearful’ while others respond feeling ‘protected’ or ‘heard’ that a candidate is listening to their concerns and willing to fulfil them. It also shows how the institutionalized use of strategy language has implications: some of these emerge from the genre itself while others derive from situation; specific choices.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

Journal Metrics

Google-based Impact Factor (2021): 1.43

h-index (July 2022): 45

i10-index (July 2022): 283

h5-index (2017-2021): 25

h5-median (2017-2021): 37

Learn more