2016 US Presidential Debate Analysis, part 1, The Handshake

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton shake hands.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton shake hands. | Source

Preface

This analysis, of the first 2016 Presidential Debate, seeks to answer the question posed by candidate Hillary Clinton:

You have to judge us, who can shoulder the immense, awesome responsibilities of the presidency. Who can put into action the plans that will make your life better.

We were told we have to judge. But, do we have follow this dictate and judge? If we judge, how do we judge? What criterion and investigative methodology do we use to judge? How do we know if the candidates are genuine? How do we find the truth?

To provide meaningful discussion on this difficult question, this author has broken this analysis and discussion down into manageable portions and selected a behavioral model of investigative research. In this analysis only the empirical data within the photo frames of the NBC debate video.

This analysis presents data only from 'The Handshake' of the two candidates; the predictive validity of one short series of behaviors is of course limited, but it is somewhat helpful in establishing a baseline of behavior for these two candidates.


Discussion on Methodology

Candidates proposed to us two investigative methodologies with which, they suggested we use, to make our decision. They proposed 'fact checking' and 'temperament assessment'. Both methodologies are inherently flawed for this investigation with questionable predictive validity.

Methodology of Fact Checking: Not only is fact checking inherently flawed for this investigation because of disputed facts and questionable historians, but moreover, it is only half of a methodology and is better known as Historical Research--which, on the other hand, is a valid methodology.

Historical Research is, as defined by the University of Southern California:

The purpose of a historical research design is to collect, verify, and synthesize evidence from the past to establish facts that defend or refute a hypothesis. It uses secondary sources and a variety of primary documentary evidence, such as, diaries, official records, reports, archives, and non-textual information [maps, pictures, audio and visual recordings].

The limitation is that the sources must be both authentic and valid...

Considering that these candidates may not be considered reliable historians, any investigation attempting to use historical data to evaluate these candidates will yield convoluted results.

Moreover, that fact collection is only part of the Historical Research methodology, unless this investigation of the facts includes a systematic examination, then this methodology is flawed for use in this circumstance.

Methodology of Temperament Assessment: Temperament, as used by the lay person, is not the same as used by psychologists; the evaluative options for temperament are extensive and depend upon which definition of temperament you wish to utilize.

Temperament is so misunderstood that, according to Merriam-Webster, "Lookups for temperament spiked 78 times over our hourly average as the presidential debate caused people to turn to our dictionary in search of that word’s many meanings."

In hopes of convincing us that they had the better temperament, the candidates stated:

I think my strongest asset, maybe by far is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not.
--Donald Trump, Presidential Debate Transcript

That's bad judgment. That is not the right temperament to be commander in chief....
--Hillary Clinton, Presidential Debate Transcript

A simple definition of temperament as put forth by Merriam-Webster:

The simple definition of temperament is the usual attitude, mood, or behavior of a person or animal.

A more complex definition of temperament by the Psychology Online Dictionary:

The fundamental groundwork of character, generally presumed to be biologically determined and existent early in life, inclusive of traits like emotional reactiveness, energy level, reaction tempo, and motivation to explore. In animal actions, is explained as an individual.

How does the average American citizen then judge these two candidates for truthfulness? How does the average citizen answer the all important question-- which candidate is more suited to the high level of the US presidency? This author proposes a forensic approach.

According to Mark I. Levy, M.D., and Ronald H. Roberts, Ph.D. in their White Paper for the San Francisco Bar:

The utilization of tools from forensic psychology can be helpful in educating the fact finder about issues that bear directly upon questions of truthfulness.

In forensic profiling, behavioral data is frequently utilized to make risk and truth assessments. Techniques utilized in forensic profiling are not significantly different to the techniques we use on a daily basis to determine truthfulness in other people. Police officers, mom's, educators, and the like make daily assessments of truth and risk.

We can make these assessments because people have similar micro expressions and behaviors across gender, race, or age. These "tells" we see which cause us to feel someone is telling the truth or is not truthful appear constantly and are nearly impossible to remove, even with significant coaching. Actors study for many years to master micro behaviors and when you see an actor you feel is "genuine", then that actor has mastered the use of manipulating their micro behaviors.


Frame by frame analysis of screenshots NBC video 4:16 - 4:35

To answer the thesis question, this analysis only utilizes the undisputed available empirical data within the debate video.

The methodology choice for this analysis is Behavioral Observation. The behaviors of the candidates are captured frame by frame allowing for the examination of micro expressions and behaviors.

See the captions below the screenshots for observations on the photo; Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be hereafter referred to as "HRC" and "DJT" respectively.

Frame 4:16

Lester Holt announces first Democrat nominee HRC and then Republican nominee DJT.
Lester Holt announces first Democrat nominee HRC and then Republican nominee DJT. | Source

Frame 4:24

HRC is the first candidate NBC shows entering the stage.  All cameras in the audience are focused on HRC. DJT is not seen in this frame.
HRC is the first candidate NBC shows entering the stage. All cameras in the audience are focused on HRC. DJT is not seen in this frame. | Source

Frame 4:25

The camera zooms in on HRC, we do not see DJT in this frame.  HRC has her head positioned upward; she gazes to the opposite side of the stage.
The camera zooms in on HRC, we do not see DJT in this frame. HRC has her head positioned upward; she gazes to the opposite side of the stage. | Source

Frame 4:26

HRC moves her gaze downward and is no longer looking across the room.  DJT is not in this frame.
HRC moves her gaze downward and is no longer looking across the room. DJT is not in this frame. | Source

Frame 4:27

DJT is now captured by the television camera for the first time, looking toward the audience with a smile. HRC is not in this frame.
DJT is now captured by the television camera for the first time, looking toward the audience with a smile. HRC is not in this frame. | Source

Frame 4:28

DJT appears to say "Thank you" to the audience.  HRC is not in this frame.  DJT's head remains upright.
DJT appears to say "Thank you" to the audience. HRC is not in this frame. DJT's head remains upright. | Source

Frame 4:29 a

DJT turns his head toward the approaching HRC.  His head remains erect.
DJT turns his head toward the approaching HRC. His head remains erect. | Source

Frame 4:29 b

Both candidates are seen in frame; HRC's head is still downward, and DJT's head remains upright.  HRC is in front of her podium. DJT has not yet reached his podium.
Both candidates are seen in frame; HRC's head is still downward, and DJT's head remains upright. HRC is in front of her podium. DJT has not yet reached his podium. | Source

Frame 4:30

DJT is first to present a hand for the handshake; his palm is open.  HRC has not yet lifted her right hand.  HRC is the first to pass her podium and has moved closer to DJT's side of the stage.
DJT is first to present a hand for the handshake; his palm is open. HRC has not yet lifted her right hand. HRC is the first to pass her podium and has moved closer to DJT's side of the stage. | Source

Frame 4:31 a

HRC's palm is stiffly flexed and held sideways, arm at chest height.  DJT's palm held upwards, arm between hip and chest height, and palm more relaxed. HRC's head pulled stiffly back away from right arm.
HRC's palm is stiffly flexed and held sideways, arm at chest height. DJT's palm held upwards, arm between hip and chest height, and palm more relaxed. HRC's head pulled stiffly back away from right arm. | Source

Frame 4:31 b

HRC moves her upper body away from the handshake as she steps in with her right foot. HRC passes center stage and is now on DJT's side of the stage. DJT's body remains square and hand opens more for a handshake.
HRC moves her upper body away from the handshake as she steps in with her right foot. HRC passes center stage and is now on DJT's side of the stage. DJT's body remains square and hand opens more for a handshake. | Source

Frame 4:31 c

HRC steps into the handshake, further moving her left shoulder away and creating distance between the two candidates. DJT remains squarely faced forward toward HRC.
HRC steps into the handshake, further moving her left shoulder away and creating distance between the two candidates. DJT remains squarely faced forward toward HRC. | Source

Frame 4:32 a

DJT steps into the handshake, bringing his body closer to HRC's arm. HRC leans forward toward DJT with the right side of her body, while her left shoulder pulls further away; with HRC's left arm behind her torso, and distance is maintained.
DJT steps into the handshake, bringing his body closer to HRC's arm. HRC leans forward toward DJT with the right side of her body, while her left shoulder pulls further away; with HRC's left arm behind her torso, and distance is maintained. | Source

Frame 4:32 b

DJT reaches left arm behind HRC's back. Distance between the two begins to narrow. DJT's body remains square; HRC's body remains sideways.
DJT reaches left arm behind HRC's back. Distance between the two begins to narrow. DJT's body remains square; HRC's body remains sideways. | Source

Frame 4:32 c

Distance between the candidates is less than before, as DJT's arm embraces HRC's back appearing to draw her closer. DJT's stance changes from square to face toward audience more.
Distance between the candidates is less than before, as DJT's arm embraces HRC's back appearing to draw her closer. DJT's stance changes from square to face toward audience more. | Source

Frame 4:32 d

DJT moves HRC's hand in additional shakes.  DJT's head is inclined toward HRC.  HRC's head faces DJT with no incline. Distance is lessened and HRC's left arm is now closer.
DJT moves HRC's hand in additional shakes. DJT's head is inclined toward HRC. HRC's head faces DJT with no incline. Distance is lessened and HRC's left arm is now closer. | Source

Frame 4:33

Photo Op moment. DJT has moved, with his left arm, the candidates are closer and both turn towards the audience.
Photo Op moment. DJT has moved, with his left arm, the candidates are closer and both turn towards the audience. | Source

Frame 4:34 a

DJT opens hand from shake first. Both candidates remain for a moment in photo op position, facing the audience squarely.
DJT opens hand from shake first. Both candidates remain for a moment in photo op position, facing the audience squarely. | Source

Frame 4:34 b

The handshake has ended, and both candidates are square to the audience.  HRC's right arm begins to shift from the handshake toward the audience.
The handshake has ended, and both candidates are square to the audience. HRC's right arm begins to shift from the handshake toward the audience. | Source

Frame 4:35 a

HRC begins wave toward audience. DJT stands facing audience with arms down by his side.
HRC begins wave toward audience. DJT stands facing audience with arms down by his side. | Source

Frame 4:35 b

HRC points to someone in audience.  DJT stands still with arms by side.
HRC points to someone in audience. DJT stands still with arms by side. | Source

REFERENCE MATERIAL

CONCLUSION

Rather than provide a conclusion at this time, this author finds it to be more helpful to the reader to examine the photos independently of bias, and draw conclusions after viewing the previous reference videos included for education on micro expressions and behavior.

This author's conclusion and choice for president will be provided at the end of the this debate series in hopes that the reader will glean helpful tips on spotting micro behaviors to enhance the reader's ability to answer the thesis question, i.e., You have to judge us, who can shoulder the immense, awesome responsibilities of the presidency. Who can put into action the plans that will make your life better.

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