Presidential Candidate Body Language: Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton

What can we gather from tonality and gestures of the candidates in their campaigns?  It is an interesting question to ponder.  John McCain often uses his voice in a monotone fashion and lowers it, which is typical for alpha males.  When women speak, they often change levels in pitch and volume and infuse more emotion into their speech then men.  Therefore we should naturally expect Hillary Clinton to be more expressive for the simple reason that she is a woman.  But how does Barack Obama compare?  Well, he is someplace in between.  He is much more expressive then John McCain but not as expressive as Hillary.  Overall, women find men who are more expressive more appealing then men that are typically monotone, although respect and leadership qualities are often attributed to those with deeper voices.  Hillary therefore is at a distinct disadvantage in this department.  The research also shows that deeper voices are more believable, trustworthy, and authoritative.  If Hillary were to attempt a deeper voice, it would carry across a room poorly, it might even appear angry or screechy.

Also note how Obama’s voice is rhythmic and hypnotic as a preacher would address his congregation.  His voice emphasizes certain words and draws them out.  His speech is not unlike Martin Luther King’s style in his speech “I Have a Dream”.  He pauses frequently to allow the crowd to stir or cheer.  Pausing is a way to control the audience, it is a powerful tool that can be used by regular people who which to appear dominant.  The person pausing lacks any fear of being cut off by those surrounding him.

What can be said about the language of their bodies?  It’s fairly obvious that McCain is much more rigid, but this is due to injuries sustained from war and age.  He uses his arms far less then Obama and this can come off as less expressive.  McCain’s arm movements are more deliberate and controlled though, which is typical of leader’s.  Along with his voice, McCain demonstrates stability, control and safety whereas Obama conveys dynamic change.  You might also note that Obama frequently looks down his nose at people.  The head is tilted back and the eye appears to look through the nose (almost God-like).  This is a very egotistical posture to hold and is elitist.  It is what a wealthy person might do in the presence of a beggar.

If you want to learn more about body language, be sure to check out the E-book – The Body Language Project: Dating, Attraction and Sexual Body Language.

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