The Medium may be the Same but the Message is Different: Comparing the Tweets of U.S. Presidents Obama and Trump

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Cynthia Whissell

Abstract

Monthly averages for Tweets posted by Obama in 2015-16 and Trump in 2017 were compared in terms of their frequency of occurrence, their tendency to be replies or retweets, the emotionality of their language, and their vocabulary. There were extreme differences in frequency of tweeting (r2=.88, p<.001), with Trump tweeting more frequently. There were also considerable differences in Pleasantness of Tweet language, with Obama employing more Pleasant words (r2=.31, p<.001). Trump retweeted proportionally more often while Obama replied proportionally more often (r2=.28, .20, p<.05). Additionally, each president employed a distinct vocabulary. Obama employed first person plural pronouns (“we”, “us”) more often (r2=.43, p<.001). It was possible to predict president of origin with extremely high success (97% or better) whether frequency of tweeting was included in the predictive scheme or not. While the medium the two presidents were employing was the same, their resulting messages were very different.

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How to Cite
Whissell, C. (2018). The Medium may be the Same but the Message is Different: Comparing the Tweets of U.S. Presidents Obama and Trump. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 5(6). https://doi.org/10.14738/assrj.56.4630
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Author Biography

Cynthia Whissell, Laurentian University

Cynthia Whissell is a research design specialist and a psycholinguist who teaches in Psychology and in the PhD program in Interdisciplinary Human Studies.  She is a Full Professor with close to 50 years of teaching experience.  Her research focuses on how emotion is expressed in linguistic communications.