Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2127:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Body Language during
Piers Morgan Interview

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran was interviewed by Piers Morgan on Sunday. This interview demonstrated a few great nonverbal tells - here are some:

Ahmadinejad displays contempt a number of times during this video manifested by a less common and underappreciated body language signal - the unilateral sniff. The one-sided rapid air inhaling through a nostril is a variation of nostril flaring (0:16, 0:18, 0:21 - 0:22, and 2:08). It can also be commonly accompanied by a subtle (or sometimes very overt) "snarl" or a tightening of the mustache area, a lip curl, a unilateral "bunching-up" (contraction) of the cheek, as well as a transient increase in crows feet" and a partial closure of the eyelids. Note that the sniff-snarl occurs on Ahmadinejad's right, while multiple mouth-contempt microexpressions of contempt happen on his left (0:45, 1:04, 1:16, 1:18, and 2:01) while a longer duration example occurs at 1:25.

The Iranian President is not without signals of anxiety. During the 0:48 - 0:57 as well as the 1:27 - 1:35 Ahmadinejad is self-hand holding and massaging his fingers/thumb. This is one example of what is known as a Manipulator, Adaptor or Pacifier (MAP). This self-touching is a strong body language signal of anxiety and low-comfort. Moreover this behavior beckon occurs on his lap - indicating a greater need for protection. This seated variation of a "fig leaf" aka "genital guarding" contrasting with coexisting multiple contempt displays of contempt is an example of emotional dissonance. He has strong beliefs and wants everyone to know them - and yet he's not comfortable expressing them or at least doing so on unfriendly soil and/or on camera.