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Body Language in the Vice Presidential Debate

Did Gender Differences Play a Role? Experts Weight In
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Vice Presidential Debate Scorecard continued...

 

According to Roberts, Palin struck an immediate, friendly tone of voice. "The first words out of her mouth were, 'Can I call you Joe?'" Biden's voice was also polite. Roberts says gender may have had an impact here -- Biden was careful not to sound like he was slamming or talking down to Palin.

At one point when he was talking about his children, Biden's voice broke. "Does it make him weak or does it make him real?" Roberts wonders. "The audience must decide."

Goman pointed out Palin's occasional tendency to raise her pitch at the end of a sentence, so it sounds more like a question. This cadence supports a message of "I'm just like you," but it could "get in the way of a sending a message about being vice presidential.'"

4. Posture: Did the candidates stand up straight with their heads held high?

 

Roberts:

Palin - 5

Biden - 5

 

Koegel:

Palin - 5

Biden - 5

 

Goman:

Palin - 3.5

Biden - 3.5

 

Average:

Palin - 4.5

Biden- 4.5

 

"They both shifted, looked down at notes, and raised their shoulders," Goman says. "They were both equally guilty of not holding that erect posture." On the positive, "their bodies oriented when they spoke and when they listened," showing respect for each other's point of view.

5. Gestures: Did the candidates use natural, fluid gestures?

 

Roberts:

Palin - 3

Biden - 4

 

Koegel:

Palin - 3

Biden - 4

 

Goman:

Palin - 4

Biden - 4

 

Average:

Palin - 3.3

Biden- 4

 

According to Koegel, Joe Biden wins this one. He had more movement than Sarah Palin. She was flailing her pen around," which could have been distracting.

Goman says both candidates were guilty of pointing with a pen. And Biden did more finger-pointing in general, a gesture that is typically not well received. Occasionally, Biden used an open-handed chop instead, which comes off as more polite. Biden also had a nice gesture when he discussed "reaching across the aisle," Goman says.

6. Facial Expressions: Did the candidates smile sincerely and make good eye contact?

 

Roberts:

Palin - 4

Biden - 4

 

Koegel:

Palin - 4

Biden - 3

 

Goman:

Palin - 3

Biden - 4.5

 

Average:

Palin - 3.7

Biden- 3.8

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