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Did You Notice How Often Clinton Was Interrupted Last Night?

A large body of research finds this happens to women on a regular basis.

By Tom Jacobs


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton square off during the presidential debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016, in Hempstead, New York. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By Vox reporter Sarah Kliff’s count,Hillary Clinton was interrupted 40 times during the first 26 minutes of Monday night’s presidential debate.

This comes as no surprise. Four decades’ worth of research has found that women get interrupted in conversation more often than men.

The first major study along these lines was published in 1975. Sociologists Don Zimmerman and Candace West from the University of California–Santa Barbara surreptitiously recorded 31 conversations, including 11 that were between a man and a woman.

“In cross-sex conversations, there were 48 instances of simultaneous speech classified as interruptions, and nine classified as overlaps,” they wrote. “Virtually all the interruptions and overlaps were by male speakers (98% and 100% respectively).”

Flash forward 40 years, to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology. Transcribing 40 three-minute-long conversations, George Washington University’s Adrian Hancock and Benjamin Rubin found that “when speaking with a female, participants interrupted more” than they did when conversing with a male.

Interestingly, Hancock and Rubin found both men and women are more likely to interrupt female conversation partners.

So it’s clear enough why Clinton didn’t get rattled by all those intrusive asides: She is, no doubt, used to it.