Facial software takes deeper look at debate - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Facial software takes deeper look at debate

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Purdue Professor Chris Kowal analyzed the candidates' faces during the debate. Purdue Professor Chris Kowal analyzed the candidates' faces during the debate.
Wednesday's debate was the first of three between the presidential candidates. Wednesday's debate was the first of three between the presidential candidates.
WEST LAFAYETTE -

The candidates for president faced praise and criticism over Wednesday's debate, but it's their faces that are drawing national attention at Purdue University.

In the first debate, both candidates smiled. But what did their faces really say?

Purdue Professor Chris Kowal says Governor Mitt Romney "really tapped into the negative type of emotions."

Overall, Romney displayed much more emotion throughout the debate than President Barack Obama. He says Obama was "more neutral in his expressions."

That's not just Professor Kowal expressing his personal views. It's the candidate's expressions he watched.

Professor Kowal took the debate face-off, ran the video through facial recognition software and found, with Romney, "70 percent of the time he was speaking to President Obama and in a stance that is much more aggressive and showing power emotions."

His eyeline showed anger at times, he said.

"It's time for a new way," the governor said at one point. After making a statement like that, Professor Kowal found his right lip curled slightly up.

"That's definitely a strong display of pride," he said.

But the Romney comment about Big Bird - "I like PBS. I like Big Bird." - That revealed Romney might not have felt comfortable with his words, especially speaking to a PBS anchor, Jim Lehrer.

And the President?

At one point, he said, "Governor Romney certainly cares about education." But Kowal says Obama then looked down and gave the impression he didn't think much of his own words at that point.

"He didn't allow himself to be expressive," Kowal said.

In fact, the President's head was down so much it was actually hard to read his face. But at one point, when the President talked about meeting a voter, Kowal says the software found "strong signs of feeling of pride."

But using the software, which can measure consumer satisfaction, found both men "still have a large deficit of emotional connection to people," Kowal said. "That's why they have not closed the sale."

At least not yet.

But face it, we have two more debates to go.

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