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June 7, 2013

STAWAR: The governor’s speech


Another of Pennebaker’s discoveries is that people readily accommodate other people’s linguistic styles. He calls this “Language Style Matching (LSM).” You can check out how well your style matches that of others at  

To further put the LIWC program through its paces, I tried it out on three speeches made by Indiana’s new governor, Mike Pence. I used a 2010 speech on the American presidency he gave to Hillsdale College in Michigan, along with the governor’s  2013 inaugural speech and State of the State address.

My contrary wife Diane pointed out that professional speechwriters often write these addresses, therefore, any analysis must take that into account. So in deference to her argument, my dubious interpretations, refer only to the text of the speech and not necessarily the speaker.

All three of Pence’s speeches demonstrated very similar language style. According to Pennebaker’s LSM application, the language style matching scores ranged from “above average” to “very much above average.”  

The 70 LIWC factor scores for all three speeches  were compared to the 2007 LIWC norms. Words with the highest and lowest frequencies were identified. The governor’s  speeches show a very high use of  “we” words, which is consistent with being confident, self-assured, but also  perhaps a bit distant. In regard to content words, the highest frequencies were seen for words relating to money, achievement and work. None of this is very surprising, given the governor’s stated focus on jobs, taxes and the economy. 

Words related to inhibition, such as “block”, “constrain” and “stop” were also relatively high in frequency, which may reflect   his traditionally conservative philosophy in regard to government. For example, on his first day in office the governor put a halt to all new state regulations to encourage job creation.

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