Vraagontwijking Van Manlijke en Vrouwelijke Politici en Niet-politici
News interviews play an important role in the way the formation of opinions. The details of this type of interaction have been studied quite recently by a number of scholars. In this study observational categories for evasive conversational behaviour, as proposed by these researchers, are applied to interviewees differing in gender and political activity. Its main question is: do interviewees of different gender and political commitment differ in their evasive reactions to questions? The data consist of 32 10-minute clips from interviews broadcast on Dutch TV or radio in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In the analysis, four different types of evasion were distinguished: 1 Evasion by changing the discourse roles. Interviewees can avoid answering questions by adopting behaviour typical of the interviewer role, such as posing counter questions, listening actively instead of speaking, or changing the agenda of the interview. 2 Evasion by playing with the rules for turn taking, for example, by interrupting the interviewer. 3 Evasion by couching the answer in avoiding terms or by being polite and indirect. 4 Evasion by questioning the question (its relevance, appropriateness or formulation), questioning a presupposition or giving a non-answer. Not surprisingly, the results show that politicians are more evasive than non-politicians. Less predictably, however, they also show that males are more evasive than females. The effect of gender is not as strong as that of political activity. When comparing male and female politicians, it turns out that both groups are often evasive, but make use of different means. Female non-politicians use evasions remarkably infrequently.
Published online: 24 March 2014