Persuasiveness of Politicians: does the number of hand gestures performed in speeches influence the persuasiveness of politicians?

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Persuasive messages are omnipresent in today’s society; especially politicians try to be persuasive. Nonverbal communication, and in specific hand gestures, are considered to be important in these persuasive messages. Previous studies already examined the influence of the type of hand gestures on persuasiveness, but the influence of the number of hand gestures has not been researched yet. Therefore, it was examined whether the number of hand gestures performed in speeches influences the persuasiveness of politicians and the citizens’ intention to vote. To address this question, a corpus of videos of 11 politicians was selected to conduct a within-subject experiment in which participants rated the persuasiveness of politicians and indicated their intention to vote. The results showed that there is no effect of number of hand gestures on persuasiveness and intention to vote. These results are not in line with previous studies. Therefore, further research should also focus on the number of hand gestures. Researchers could design an experiment in which the number of hand gestures is completely controlled to get a clear understanding of the relationship between persuasiveness and number of hand gestures or a between subject design could be used to test whether results are different when the experiment is shorter and participants are less influenced by fatigue or boredom.
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