Gender effect on political leaders’ nonverbal communicative structure during the COVID-19 crisis

Tsfira Grebelsky-Lichtman*, Roy Katz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been intense interest in political leaders’ nonverbal communicative structures (NCS) during televised appearances. This study analyzes the effect of gender on leaders’ NCS and presents theoretical and analytical frameworks of gendered NCS.We analyzed 20 televised appearances by 10 heads of state (five males and five females) from democraticWestern countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings revealed that gender had a significant effect on leaders’ NCS, indicating that leaders presented NCS that corresponded to their gender. Male leaders’ masculine NCS included competition, warning, threatening, and scaring behavior, broad proxemics, tension leakage, and illustrative gestures, while female leaders presented feminine NCS of cooperativeness, emotional communication, empathy, optimism, eye contact, and flexible expressions. Furthermore, the effect of gender on leaders’ NCS had an interaction effect with the situation of the pandemic, indicating that countries with a female leader had fewer diseased and severe cases and more calmness and healing NCS. The conclusions present theoretical and analytical frameworks that explain the central effect of gender on contemporary leaders’ NCS. This study develops advanced distinctive profiles for male versus female leaders’ NCS of emotions, cognition, and behavior during a crisis.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number7789
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.


  • COVID-19
  • Gender
  • Leadership
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Political communication


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