LAS CRUCES – The morning after the first presidential debate, a group of psychologists, cognitive scientists and communications experts got together on the internet to discuss their observations of the candidates. Tim Ketelaar, an associate professor of psychology at New Mexico State University, was part of the four-person panel.
Ketelaar is an expert in the science of human emotions and in facial expressions and microexpressions. Ketelaar was trained by Paul Ekman, one of the leading experts on microexpressions and a chief consultant on the Fox show, “Lie to Me.”
“Anyone watching the debate will form judgments of truthfulness largely based upon whether they’re seeing lots of negative emotion — we tend to assume that person is untrustworthy, the more negative emotion we see,” Ketelaar said. “And we tend to assume a person is more trustworthy the more positive emotion we see. That’s a crude simplification, but it tends to be the case.”
At Monday night’s debate, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump displayed a lot of negative emotion in their facial expressions, Ketelaar said.