A Griffith University researcher has been making waves in US media as the race to the White House heats up.

New York-based Jeff Thompson is a PhD candidate at the Griffith Law School whose areas of expertise include mediation, negotiation, conflict resolution, and nonverbal communication.

His analysis of the third US presidential debate this week gave President Obama the nonverbal advantage. Obama’s use of “congruent and forceful gestures” contrasted with Governor Mitt Romney’s lack of gesture. A tendency to lick his lips also worked again the challenger, Jeff said.

He highlights academic research detailing how nonverbal cues connect to people’s feelings about candidates.

Jeff’s analysis of the role and impact of facial expression and body gestures in the earlier debate of Vice President candidates Joseph Biden and Paul Ryan was picked up by US News and Psychology Today.

His verdict and in-depth explanation can also be read, closer to home, on The Conversation website.

Jess, who works as a detective with the NYPD, analysed the non-verbal cues displayed by candidates, based on a model that focused on charisma, professionalism and rapport.

“Charisma is having the ability to motivate, attract, and influence others,” he said.

“Professionalism includes being prepared, having confidence, and possessing an expertise in the topic being discussed. Rapport includes mutual attentiveness, coordination, and positivity.”

Despite an enduring facial smirk, Republican contender Paul Ryan maintained control and kept his emotions in check during the debate, unlike his opponent, Jeff says. Joe Biden “laughed and lost”.

“With his frequent laughter, smiling and fidgeting…it was clear he was displeased with Ryan’s comments,” Jeff was quoted in US News.

“His reaction displayed a lack of control and professionalism.”

Jeff’s follow- up article at PsychologyToday.com details the research conducted on nonverbal communication and the U.S. debates.

“There is a science behind the analysis of nonverbal communication and it shows us how specific nonverbal actions of the debaters can have a positive and negative effect on viewers.”

“This article connects my previous analysis with research and aims to inform the reader while raising their awareness of these nonverbal actions,” Jeff said.