Quantcast
Connect with us

Expert: Trump’s funneled lips are a primal display associated with intense emotion and anger

Published

on

- Commentary
Donald Trump appears at 2020 debate (screen grab)

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met on Oct. 22 for the final debate in the 2020 election and, like the first debate, it was unusual.

COVID-19 forced social distancing and largely took the studio audience, with their laughter, cheering and booing out of the equation.

What’s more, with norm-breaking interruptions and stealing of speaking time an inherent part of Donald Trump’s debate strategy, the contentious crosstalk between the two candidates and the moderator made long sections of the candidates’ first debate nearly impossible to hear or follow. The threat of having the microphone cut off effectively muted this aggression.

ADVERTISEMENT

But is what they say as important as we think?

Although news coverage generally focuses on what the candidates say, as a political psychologist who studies nonverbal behavior, I focus less on the rehearsed answers and more on the space between talking points. These moments, when candidates nonverbally – and largely involuntarily – respond to their opposition can be enormously revealing.

In other words, how people listen and react may speak louder than what they say.

Biden

A screenshot from C-SPAN shows Trump talking while Biden laughs

Biden laughs off a Trump attack.

During this debate Joe Biden reacted as the emotionally expressive politician he has been throughout his career.

ADVERTISEMENT

Even when directly dealing with attacks from Trump, whether aimed at his family or his record, Biden often smiled, laughed and shook his head while closing his eyes. That made him appear bemused, if not jovial.

Research suggests that people in informal discussions often change topics within 30 seconds of laughter occurring. This, in turn may be why people – especially politicians – “laugh off” insults.

Laughter when under attack likely signals that Biden feels positive enough to be playful and that he is subtly taking control of the conversation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump

Trump elongates his lips, looking doubtful

A signature Trump expression known as the ‘lip funneler.’

Trump presented a much less aggressive and more thoughtful face to the American public during this second debate, especially when compared to the first one.

ADVERTISEMENT

Instead of directly attacking Biden when his assertions were questioned, Trump responded with what may best be termed a controlled-posed smile, in which his lower lip is pressed up while his lip corners were pulled up in a smile. This type of smile is often used to mask negative emotions or to signal positive emotions when they are not felt.

Perhaps Trump’s signature facial display is his protruding funneled lips. This lip funneler – as it is referred to by facial display researchers – can often be seen while Trump is listening and preparing to interrupt or respond to Biden. The research that exists about this behavior in humans suggests it is a primal display often occurring during intense emotional situations and is associated with anger and threats while engaging in dominance-seeking behavior.

Much can be learned about each candidate with the noise turned down and the attention placed squarely on their distinct nonverbal behavior styles.

ADVERTISEMENT

This is especially the case when focusing on how the candidates respond to their opposition’s assertions and attacks. Public figures can often control how they act. However, they often do not have as much control over how they react in the heat of the moment.

[Expertise in your inbox. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter and get expert takes on today’s news, every day.]The Conversation

 

By Patrick Stewart, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Arkansas

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Here’s what Trump could do to tank the economy out of pure vengeance

Published

on

Less than a week before the 2020 election, I interviewed a number of psychologists who speculated that if President Donald Trump lost to former Vice President Joe Biden, his narcissism might cause him to lash out by deliberately tanking the economy. Now it seems like that prediction might have been correct — although the reasons may have as much to do with the Republican Party's longstanding traditions as Trump's individual flaws.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

DonaldJTrump2024.com bought by comedians so they could mock him for the loser he is

Published

on

Two comedians Jason Selvig and Davram Stiefler (aka “The Good Liars”) purchased DonaldJTrump2024.com and set it up to mock President Trump for refusing to concede the election, planning a 2024 re-run, and ripping off his followers.

The site, which looks almost identical to Trump’s actual website, DonaldJTrump.com, calls Trump a “loser” six times and has a fictional quote from Trump stating, “I lost the 2020 election.” It also has a banner that says “Click here to donate to a PAC that has nothing to do with my legal defense team.”

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Here’s how anti-KKK laws could be an effective way to go after Trump

Published

on

President Donald Trump's campaign continues to come up short in its post-election legal battle, observers are mulling over ways to go after the president, his campaign, and Republican Party's efforts to suppress votes.

In an editorial published by The Bulwark, Section 1985(3) of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 is being highlighted as a possible form of legal consequence for Trump's actions.

Continue Reading