Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Dr. George R. Goethals

Second Advisor

Dr. Crystal L. Hoyt

Third Advisor

Dr. Daniel J. Palazzolo


Undergraduate students were asked to read or watch a portion of the second 1976 Presidential Debate between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Afterwards, subjects listed the four most memorable statements or moments from the debate. Although both groups listed content related moments, the Video group paid more attention to the personality of the candidates. Participants took a memory test where they matched quotes from the debate to Ford and Carter. While the initial hypothesis was that the Video group’s focus on the visual and auditory cues of the speaker would hinder their success on the memory test, subjects in the Video condition actually performed better, probably because they were more engaged. Participants were also asked to rate the candidates on ten personal characteristics. In the transition from Transcript to Video, Carter burst ahead on the warmth dimension while Ford gained ground on the dynamism dimension (strength and activity). The differences in these dimensions in the Video condition compared to the Transcript condition had little effect on who the subjects thought performed better in the debate or who would make a better president. Yet Carter’s gain on the warmth dimension in the Video condition led subjects to say they would more likely vote for him than those in the Transcript group. This finding provides support to the claim that the warmth of the candidate can drive voting behavior.