Republican debate´s emotions to exam

Political debates have an emotional impact on citizens with the ability to modify people’s perception of them and influence the election result. Oratory, media and debate training, makes that politician exert a mastery of some gestures (body language, social smile) that help to provide more meaning and verbal messages that are they key to any good speaker. But is not easy control it.

Unconsciously, the facial expression of the candidates, in such occasions, tells more than his messages. There is a chance to discover the real emotions of the candidates. The challenge and as well the opportunity is know how to do it. And this, nowadays, is possible thanks to Facial Coding, a technology that recognizes facial microexpressions: anger, sadness, disgust, surprise, fear and happiness. And this opportunity was offered yesterday by the Republican candidates in a debate whose expressions were launched to millions of citizens and that inevitably and unconsciously, have generated an emotional impact that will mark voters’ preferences.


DEBATE CANDIDATOS REPUBLICANOS USA                       Click on the picture to see the video analysis.


Happiness of Mrs. Fiorina after  subduing Mr. Trump

Mrs. Fiorina showed herself a priori victim and her face denoted a combination of anger and sadness when she declared: “Every woman know that Mr.Trump wanted to say”. Like is showed in the video (minute 1 second 13). The mixture of anger and sadness is translated in a sense of betrayal according to the emotion theory of Dacher Keltner. Betrayal that quickly changed into happiness when Mrs. Fiorina achieve her personal triumph making Mr. Trump apologize, making evident his contradiction: “I think she has a beautiful face and she is a beautiful woman” said Donald Trump even though days before he has despised her with his controversial comment: “Look that face, do you think that someone would vote for her?”


Mr. Trump’s Anger

Continuous conflicts between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, especially about Irak o Spanish language, transmit tension as a consequence of their statements and their faces. Jeb Bush, who still defends the legacy of his brother in front of the Donald’ Trump criticizes, he expressed hate, as a result of a combination of disgust and sadness (second 33). The principal emotion of Mr.Trump was anger when he told to Mr. Bush to shut up and tried to humiliate him.


Where were Dr.Ben Carson’s emotions?

Polls seem to give more support to Donald Trump in first place and to the neurosurgeon Ben Carson in second place. But yesterday night the main characters were Mr. Trump and the only one female candidate, Mrs.Fiorina. The second of voter intention hardly had prominence in the dialectic of debate, failed to position himself because of his lack of persuasion due to a triple factor:

  1. Lack of participation.
  2. Lack of vehemence.
  3. An absence of personal comments that distinguish him and put him in value against their adversaries.

Emotional Activation

Beyond simple emotions (anger, sadness, disgust, surprise, fear and happiness), the facial recognition technology of emotions provides information about relevant metrics like the emotional activation level during the speech of the politicians. In this case,  the high energy and participation of Donald Trump against the rest are evident during the debate, and although in some cases he tried to retract his criticism about Mrs. Fiorina’ physical, some expressions of his face didn’t accompany him when he tried to moderate his words.

If we look to the credibility derived of the emotional communication of the candidates at the republican debate, Mrs. Fiona would rise voter intention, Ben Carson would drop and Donald Trump will remain triumphant.

There are emotional answers that make the difference of voters preferences and derive from the emotional impact of the candidates on citizens. The importance of this debate about the stated vote intention so far, from a point of view of perception and credibility based on the emotional expression of the candidates, will make that Mrs. Fiorina climbs in the polls, Ben Carson lowered and Donald Trump will keep triumphant. Although will be better to analyze the facial expression of the audience. Anyway, the emotional reaction of the candidates about their opponents determines the verbal answer that subsequently their opponents express in the dialectic of the debate. So important is the management of emotions, such as real-time knowledge of fitting the setbacks of their opponents. People vote for the candidate that raise their appropriate feelings, not to the one who makes the best statements. Therefore, the treatment of emotions is essential in the global orientation of the rhetorical discourse which aim is to persuade. The art of persuading will be incomplete if the candidate doesn’t obtain a feedback from own emotional context and how impacts others.


Do you work the emotional persuasion at your speech?

Does it work for you?

Maria Pocoví