When figurative frames decrease political persuasion: The case of right-wing anti-immigration rhetoric

Amber Boeynaems*, Christian Burgers, Elly Konijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The rhetoric used by right-wing anti-immigration politicians is considered important to their political success. Such rhetoric commonly contains figurative frames with metaphor and/or hyperbole. In two experiments (nexperiment1 = 411, nexperiment2 = 407), we tested when and how such figurative frames add to the intense and emotive character of anti-immigration statements and their subsequent persuasiveness. Results showed that different voters respond differently to figuratively framed anti-immigration rhetoric: overall, voters perceived figuratively framed populist statements as more intense and emotive than nonfigurative statements, which caused boomerang effects by decreasing political persuasion. By contrast, right-wing populist voters were not persuaded by rhetorical variations in anti-immigration statements. Our findings underscore how anti-immigration rhetoric can broaden the gap between voters and put in motion further polarization in our society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-212
JournalDiscourse Processes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


The contribution of Christian Burgers was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO VENI grant [275-89-020], www.nwo.nl).

FundersFunder number
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek275-89-020


    • political communication
    • figurative framing
    • hyperbole
    • metaphor


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