Why was Donald Trump sniffling?

In the first US presidential debate on 25 September 2016 there were many who noticed Donald Trump’s sniffling. It created a twitter storm under the hashtag #TrumpSniffles and the media became extremely interested in the presidential candidate’s health. However, Lisa Flower, a researcher in Sociology at Lund University, Sweden, who is currently doing research on emotions, offers an alternative explanation.

“My research shows that sniffling can be a way for a speaker to indicate a shift from personal to professional opinions and vice versa. I have called this the emotional sniff as personal statements are allowed to be more emotional. This emotional sniffling is also used when making statements that may be deemed inappropriate for a professional role”, says Lisa Flower .

In the scientific article “The (Un)emotional Law Student” Lisa Flower discusses the concept of “the emotional sniff”. Her research is based on observations and interviews with law students who, in their role as future lawyers, must learn various strategies for dealing with personal feelings. According to Lisa Flower’s observations, sniffling was an unconscious way for law students to indicate the shift between personal and professional statements.

So, in Donald Trump’s case, how would you interpret the sniffling?
“I noted that Trump sniffled more often when questions about Mexico and Mexican immigration came up. One might interpret these questions as more personal to him”, says Lisa Flower.

Lisa Flower’s article “The (Un)emotional Law Student” is the second-most downloaded article from Lund University this year, and was downloaded nearly 700 times during the days that followed the presidential debate.

Read the article here: https://lucris.lub.lu.se/ws/files/2152220/5367860.pdf

Contact Lisa Flower
Tel: +46 (0)46 222 34 64
Email: lisa.flower@soc.lu.se

Cecilia Schubert
International press officer
Email: cecilia.schubert@kommunikation.lu.se

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is regularly ranked as one of the world’s top 100 higher education institutions. The University has 41 000 students and 7 500 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

About Us

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is regularly ranked as one of the world’s top 100 higher education institutions. The University has 41 000 students and 7 500 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

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