Monday, May 28, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1840:
Brian Banks and The Innocence Project -
Auditory Recall, Contempt, Self-doubt and Syntax

In 2003, as a sixteen-year old, Brian Banks was falsely accused of raping a classmate. Under his attorney's advice, he plead "No Contest" to rape charges rather risk a trial - and ended up spending more than five years in prison and the remainder of the time under parole as a registered sex offender with an ankle tracking bracelet. After his former accuser contacted him via Facebook and with assistance from The Innocence Project, he was able to prove he never committed the crime and this past Thursday - his conviction was overturned and he was exonerated.

There are many body language tells in this video, but a few in particular are worth noting. At multiple times during this interview, Banks eyes move very quickly (saccades) in a quick darting motion directly to his left. While not 100% reliable, in a relatively high percentage of right-handed people, a saccade straight to the left indicates an auditory recall (in these examples they are the spoken word, either something he or someone else said, e.g. his past attorney - however, the recall of other sounds such as music, etc. may also display this nonverbal epiphenomenon). Examples of his eyes moving in this manner are seen at 1:42, 2:29, 2:42, 2:52, 2:54, 4:00, 4:02, and 4:08.
There are other times when Brian Banks looks down-to-his-left (most notably at 1:22-23, 1:42, 2:52, 2:53, 3:32, 4:00, 4:02 and 4:13). Once again, while not 100% of the time, with most right-handed people, saccades in this down-left direction indicate internal dialog, syntax and word-thought-sentence construction. There are some occasions when it appears he looks both straight left and down-to-his-left as well.

At three times in this interview, Brian Banks gave both subtle and microexpression examples of contempt. These are seen at 1:58, 2:00 and 4:15. These particular displays appear as a trace amount of a one-sided smile and may also appear as a unilateral snarl. Tightening of the "mustache area" between the upper lip and nose occurs and often co-exists with one nostril flaring. Contempt is a very specific emotion where a person places another person or group beneath him. It is also possible to have self-contempt.

Secret # 457: A Contempt Amplifier

Analysis # 1824: Mexican Candidate Natalia Juarez - Subtle Contempt

Analysis # 1816: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Contempt & Mary Richardson Kennedy's Social Smile

At the 3:25 mark, Mr. Banks gives an auditory "whewww" exhale with a co-existing puffing of the cheeks (aka the "puffer fish"). This highly specific verbal-nonverbal cluster can occur just after (indicating relief with usually a quicker exhale - with more relaxed lips) or just before (typically a slower exhale with tighter lip configuration indicating fear and anxiety) a major stressful event. In this case, Brian was re-living the psychological relief that after his accuser contacted him, it allowed him to clear his name.

Secret # 53: Charlie Rangel's Puffer Fish

Secret # 1122: Tiger, Pebble Beach and the Puffer Fish
A final interesting body language tell is seen near the end of this interview. Although I'm sure that most would eventually desire to (and see the wisdom of) arriving at a point where we would no longer harbor anger towards our false accusers which Mr. Banks speaks about, his shoulder shrug at the 3:59 mark when he says, "... No, I'm not angry ..." shows us that he doubts his own words. He wants to get to this emotional mindset, and he's on his way - but he is not fully there yet. He still harbors anger - and who could blame him?

Analysis # 1818: Political Correctness, a Partial Emblematic Slip and at a Falcon, Colorado Elementary School