Date of Graduation

Spring 2015


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Erin Buchanan


In an ever-changing world of foreign relations, understanding how world leaders process and interpret events will be useful in predicting potential official reactions. The focus of the current study is on the U.S. Congress, who, despite the power they can exert on world politics, is an understudied population. Language, more specifically word frequency in congressional speeches, is one way to measure how people approach situations. Therefore, I examined speeches on foreign policy issues (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea) to elucidate Congressional thinking. Using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) developed by (Pennebaker, Booth, & Francis, 2007), the linguistic constructs of complex thinking, cognitive processing, and psychological distancing, were examined with nonparametric regression to determine if language changed over time in response to real world events. The constructs of categorical thinking, honesty, and status were examined to determine if party differences changed over time. Changes were found in complex thinking and psychological distancing, with the majority of changes happening around 9-11 and the Arab Spring. A few major party differences in honesty and status will also be discussed.


language, politics, foreign policy, party differences, congressional discourse

Subject Categories



© Kayla Nicole Jordan

Open Access

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