Humility-Based Persuasion: Individual Differences in Elicited Emotions and Politician Evaluation

Francesca D'Errico


The notion of humility has been neglected in the field of political communication in favor of the persuasive strength of a dominant leader. Humility is defined here as an interpersonal and epistemic stance aimed, on one side, at involving the interlocutor in an empathic and horizontal relation, and on the other, at admitting possible shortcomings in one’s own knowledge or competence, as inherent in human nature. The present study investigates the effect of humble communication on emotional and evaluative reactions of potential voters by taking into consideration their individual differences in terms of perceived competence (self-esteem), benevolence (moral relevance), and dominance (social dominance orientation). Results reveal that a social dominance is a good predictor of negative emotions and evaluations elicited by a humble politician, whereas self-esteem and moral sensitivity are best predictors of positive emotions and positive evaluations of a humble politician. The results shed light on possible “humble-based interventions” to promote voters’ political empowerment.


political humility, political persuasion, political emotions, individual differences

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