The impact of body language on election results- who will win the Australian election?

The 1960, NIXON-KENNEDY debate was the first ever election debate to be televised. And for the first time in history, the nation was divided in their opinions on who would win, depending on whether it was seen on the television or heard on the radio.

The discrepancy was due to how the candidates were perceived nonverbally. Nixon came across better on the radio (nonverbally speaking), his speech is slower, more controlled and authoritative. Whereas, Kennedy came across better on the television- or should I say, Nixon's body language left a lot to be desired! 

You only need to watch the first 30 seconds of this video clip to see two very obvious nonverbal cues that let Nixon down from the outset. There are many more, but these two are very visible to an untrained eye. 

1. We mentioned in an earlier post, how important foot direction is, here, Nixon's feet are positioned in the runners stance- one placed before the other as if he's ready to flee. Not quite a trait we're looking for in a leader! 

2. He looks towards Kennedy and he does so for a prolonged period of time. This feels so awkward to me, it's painful for me to watch! We look towards our superiors, so in the context of a presidential debate, Nixon would be perceived as subordinate to Kennedy. We certainly don't want to be led by a subordinate. 

The controversial divide in opinions created such a fear, due to a lack of understanding of nonverbal communication, that it was 16 years before the next debate was televised! This was a turning point in the history of body language, sparking an increase in interest and research into an area that was little understood and giving us a better understanding of nonverbal communication today. 

Australia, 2016- the first election debate between Turnbull and Shorten. Who do you think will win the election? 


Sophie ZadehComment