Texas Tech University

Women, Politics, and the Cultural Biases of Being ‘Presidential’


September 29, 2016

UNDARK - During this week’s presidential debate, Republican hopeful Donald Trump revisited previous attacks on the appearance and fitness of his Democratic rival, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. “She doesn’t have the look,” Trump declared. “She doesn’t have the stamina.”

Erik Bucy, a professor of communication at Texas Tech University who studies presidential debates and politicians' nonverbal communication, suggested that Clinton appeared well prepared for Trump's outbursts of anger and defiance. "Hillary can retaliate with a smile repertoire," he said. "Some are genuine smiles, but she'll also have controlled contempt smiles — really kind of a smirk or smile of disapproval — and then she'll have a composed amusement smile. She used them all [this week] to try and signal to the audience that this is how you respond to his bluster."

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