Understanding Political Communication Styles in Televised Debates via Body Movements

Zhiqi Kang, Christina Indudhara, Kaushik Mahorker, Erik P. Bucy, Jungseock Joo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Televised political debates have received much attention by scholars in political communication and social psychology who study nonverbal cues in interpersonal communication and their impact on candidate evaluations. An abundance of political multimedia and new platforms have required leaders to develop an effective and unique communication “style” which may rely on nonverbal devices such as face and body. Emotions conveyed by expressive gestures of candidates during debates have been shown to elicit stronger reactions from the public than rhetorical statements alone. Candidates, for example, may exploit assertive and aggressive gestures to communicate their confidence and attract supporters. Existing studies, however, are based largely on manual coding of human gestures, which may not be scalable or reproducible. The main objectives of our paper are to investigate the role of body movements of candidates using a systematic and automated approach as well as understand the context and effects of gestures. For this analysis, we collected a dataset of political debate videos from the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries and analyzed facial expressions and gestures of candidates. Our preliminary analysis demonstrates that candidates employ gestures to varying extents, and the amount of body movement is correlated with emotions conveyed in the candidates’ facial expressions. We discuss our dataset, preliminary results, and future directions in the following sections.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputer Vision – ECCV 2020 Workshops, Proceedings
EditorsAdrien Bartoli, Andrea Fusiello
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9783030664145
StatePublished - 2020
EventWorkshops held at the 16th European Conference on Computer Vision, ECCV 2020 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: Aug 23 2020Aug 28 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12535 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceWorkshops held at the 16th European Conference on Computer Vision, ECCV 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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