PCR Awardee Questionnaire: Walter Lippman Best Paper in Political Communication (2022)


le-ri: Constantine Boussalis, Travis Coan, Mirya R. Holman, Stefan Müller
Name(s) & affiliation:
  • Constantine Boussalis, Trinity College, Dublin
  • Travis Coan, University of Exeter & Exeter Q-Step Centre
  • Mirya R. Holman, Tulane University
  • Stefan Müller, University College Dublin


Project title:
  • Gender, Candidate Emotional Expression, and Voter Reactions During Televised Debates
Publication reference, link (APA 7th):
  • Boussalis, Constantine, Travis Coan, Mirya R. Holman, and Stefan Müller. 2021. “Gender, Candidate Emotional Expression, and Voter Reactions During Televised Debates.” American Political Science Review 115 (4): 1242-1257. 1017/S0003055421000666


Tell us something about you/your team and how and why you decided to focus on this research
  • This was a true meeting of the minds project! The research team brought together Constantine and Travis, who had previously used video as data in debates, Stefan, an expert on text analysis and German politics, and Mirya, whose expertise is in gender and politics and gender role theory. For a major project that involved a lot of moving parts, the paper emerged quite quickly!


In 280 characters or less, summarize the main takeaway of your project.
  • Men & women in politics use their faces & voices to convey emotions to voters but are constrained by gender roles. We use videos of 5 German debates to study emotion in political communication. Angela Merkel + minor party women are less angry but just as emotional. Voters reward women’s happiness & punish their anger.


What made this project a “polcomm project”?
  • We focus on how the gender of political elites influences how they communicate to the public during political debates by analyzing video, sound, and text! We dig into each kind of analysis and look at how the communication of emotions via each of these channels shapes voter reactions.


What, if anything, would you do differently, if you were to start this project again? (What was the most challenging part of this project? …& how did you overcome those challenges?)
  • We completed the entirety of the project during COVID, over zoom! It would have been really nice to work together in person. Regular meetings (once a week for 6 straight months!) helped keep us on track.


What other research do you currently see being done in this field and what would you like to see more of in the future?
  • We love all the work using images, video, vocal pitch, and text as measures of political communication and hope that others continue to pursue these research areas.


What’s next? (Follow-up projects? Completely new direction?)
  • Some of the research team has been leaning into a project on images as data, using social media posts from members of the US national legislature. We are also interested in how political elites use emotions to convey issue expertise and to overcome gender stereotypes.





PCR Awardee Questionnaire: Walter Lippman Best Paper in Political Communication (2022)