Getting personal: Perceptions of male and female candidates' trustworthiness and personability in Facebook campaigning
Stereotypes of women impact their decisions to run for office and the way they campaign if they do run. This is carried over to social networking sites, in which female candidates have to strike a balance between optimizing the medium’s features and producing content that does not negatively impact voter perceptions. Specifically focusing on personalization, social media is meant to simulate real conversations and interactions. However, common campaign methods for male candidates such as showing their families may reinforce stereotypes when performed by female candidates and detract from the campaign issues. The following 2x2 experiment simulates a gubernatorial candidate’s Facebook wall that consists of either all personal or all professional campaign posts. The participants’ perceptions of the candidate’s trustworthiness and personability were measured. Given the difference in beliefs and social media use among generations, participant age was studied. The results found that personal posts resulted in perceptions of higher personability, and that in particular, younger participants perceived female candidates with personable posts as more personable. A significant relationship was not found between personal posts and trustworthiness. Results from this study provide insight into possible tactics for female candidates to improve social media strategies and a possible supportive group within younger voters.
Thesis; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Ashley V. Faulkner is a member of the Class of 2018 of Washington and Lee University.