Dangerous link between power and hubris in politics. (2013)
“There is a dark side to power, which derives from its mind-changing effects on the people who hold it. The group looked for words, phrases and patterns of language use that changed consistently as the years spent in power increased.
Peter Garrard, Reader in Neurology at St George’s, University of London
The Conversation, 26 November 2013
The author’s neuroscience group looked for words, phrases and patterns of language use that changed consistently as the years spent in power increased.
Analysing speeches delivered to the House of Commons at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ), “we saw changes in the relative frequency of “we” and “I” in the speeches of (Tony) Blair and (Margaret) Thatcher at times when they were enjoying particular success or popularity.
“This marker is particularly informative in Blair’s language, and it was interesting that the initial peak corresponded to his early, successful uses of military deployment in pursuit of foreign policy (in Kosovo and Sierra Leone). The smaller peak in Margaret Thatcher’s values coincides with the year of her re-election and the aftermath of the Falkland’s War
“We also saw that words indicating self-confidence (such as “sure” and “certain”) gained in frequency as time spent in office increased, as did text entropy (a measure of unpredictability borrowed from information theory). We interpreted the latter as potentially indicative of the “restlessness, recklessness and impulsiveness” that Owen and Davidson had identified as one of the unique diagnostic criteria for Hubris syndrome.”
Read the full article here: Dangerous link between power and hubris in politics