The use of visual self-personalization by politicians to shape perceptions of their character and personality is a prominent form of modern political communication, especially on social media. Yet, little is known about the effect these portrayals have on the visual attention of voters and their impressions of the traits of the politicians depicted. This exploratory study examines the effects of visual self-personalization (professional vs. private focus) by Finnish political leaders of both genders on Instagram. Through a pilot laboratory study, viewers’ visual attention was measured using eye-tracking technology and, in combination with this, leader trait impressions were experimentally examined. The results indicate that photos depicting politicians in professional settings are more attention grabbing and effective in shaping trait impressions than photos showing politicians in private life. Among the recommendations for future research, it is noted that gender aspects should be further explored as this study, by focusing on a gender-egalitarian country, had a limited scope in that respect.
- SOCIAL media -- Political aspects
- eye tracking
- Social media