Gender, Nonverbal Communication, and Televised Debates: A Case Study Analysis of Clinton and Trump’s Nonverbal Language During the 2016 Town Hall Debate

Ben Wasike


This case study analyzed nonverbal cues during the 2016 town hall debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Variables were facial expressions, posture, eye contact, and spatial distance. Clinton was friendlier, took more expansive postures, and maintained more eye contact. The candidates largely kept within social distance, except for an instance that created postdebate controversy. Whereas some of Clinton’s nonverbal behavior conformed to established gendered cues, her nonverbal behavior largely transcended gender norms. Also addressed are the media’s shortcomings in contextualizing debate visuals.


nonverbal communication, debates, visual communication, political communication, Clinton, Trump

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