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1 May 2015 Strengthening bonds and connecting with followers
Patrick A. Stewart
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The smiles and affiliative expressions of presidential candidates are important for political success, allowing contenders to nonverbally connect with potential supporters and bond with followers. Smiles, however, are not unitary displays; they are multifaceted in composition and signaling intent due to variations in performance. With this in mind, we examine the composition and perception of smiling behavior by Republican presidential candidates during the 2012 preprimary period. In this paper we review literature concerning different smile types and the muscular movements that compose them from a biobehavioral perspective. We then analyze smiles expressed by Republican presidential candidates early in the 2012 primary season by coding facial muscle activity at the microlevel using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) to produce an inventory of politically relevant smile types. To validate the subtle observed differences between smile types, we show viewers a series of short video clips to differentiate displays on the basis of their perceived reassurance, or social signaling. The discussion considers the implications of our findings in relation to political evaluation and communication efficacy.

Patrick A. Stewart "Strengthening bonds and connecting with followers," Politics and the Life Sciences 34(1), 73-92, (1 May 2015).
Published: 1 May 2015

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2012 presidential election
Facial displays
FACS coding
happiness/reassurance displays
Nonverbal communication
social signaling
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