On SAGE Insight: Analyzing Visual Presentation Styles of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the final Presidential TV Debate

Article title: Visual Presentation Style 2: Influences on Perceptions of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Based on Visual Presentation Style During the Third 2016 Presidential Debate

From American Behavioral Scientist

This paper analyzes the third and final 2016 US presidential debate with Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. Participants in this study watched the mainly solo camera shots that alternate between the candidates or with both candidates framed side-by-side on screen (split screen). Visual presentation style significantly influenced viewer perceptions. The focusing on solely the two different camera feeds provided by C-SPAN allowed for greater statistical power and thus stronger inferences concerning the influence of visual presentation style. Specifically, findings suggest study participant evaluation of traits is based on candidate nonverbal performance. This, in turn, is influenced by network choices concerning camera feeds—whether split screen or switched camera feeds. In other words, visual presentation style chosen by the networks matters in candidate evaluation. Being aware of the implications of visual presentation style on viewer perceptions of their potential president is highly important for representative democracy’s function in our increasingly image-driven media environment.

Abstract

To be elected President of the United States, a candidate must create a story that both resonates with and persuades the electorate. Gardner suggested that “leaders achieve their effectiveness chiefly through the stories they relate” and that there are three types of leadership stories: Ordinary, Innovative and Visionary. The differences between the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Presidential elections are extreme. As the 2016 election was one of unusual and unexpected moments as compared with the more tame and typical election in 2012, this study compared the stories of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with those of the 2012 election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Results from the 2012 election found that Romney’s story fit into the category of Ordinary leader, while Obama’s story was one attributed to an Innovative leader. T tests found large and significant differences between candidate preference and story credibility and whether the stories motivated the respondents to vote. However, for the 2016 election, both candidates had innovative stories, and this may explain how one candidate won the popular vote, while the other received the majority of electoral votes.

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Article details
Visual Presentation Style 2: Influences on Perceptions of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Based on Visual Presentation Style During the Third 2016 Presidential Debate
American Behavioral Scientist
Patrick A. Stewart, Austin D. Eubanks, Reagan G. Dye, Scott Eidelman, Robert H. Wicks
First Published May 3, 2017
DOI: 10.1177/0002764217707621

 

     
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