Do Interruptions Hurt Presidential Candidates? What the Science Says

Live Science - With the second presidential debate coming up this Sunday, one particular statistic from the first debate stands out: the number of times Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton interrupted each other.

These kind of assertive interruptions are actually quite rare in normal conversation, researchers wrote in a 1989 study in the journal American Sociological Review. In several studies done in the 1970s and '80s on interruption, they wrote, there were only about two interruptions per conversation, on average.

Debates, on the other hand, are contests of dominance, said Erik Bucy, a professor of strategic communication at Texas Tech University.

"What Trump is doing with a lot of the interruptions is really trying to take back command of the stage, even though it's not his turn to speak," Bucy told Live Science. Bucy conducted a small focus group of politically independent students during the debate and found that there wasn't strong evidence that the interruptions helped or hurt either candidate.

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