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Is There a Visual Dominance in Political Communication? How Verbal, Visual, and Vocal Communication Shape Viewers' Impressions of Political Candidates


Corresponding author: Marcus Maurer; e-mail:


On the basis of a televised debate in the 2005 German national election, this study compares the influence of verbal, visual, and vocal communication on viewers' immediate impressions of political candidates by using an innovative research design. A second-by-second content analysis of 17 verbal, visual, and vocal message elements is combined with a second-by-second analysis of viewers' immediate impressions using continuous response measurement (CRM). Findings show that viewers' immediate impressions are mainly influenced by verbal communication, especially the issues discussed and the argumentative structure used. In contrast to that, the effect of nonverbal communication is far smaller. The causes and implications of these findings are discussed.