Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2157:
Al Smith Charity Dinner
Barack Obama's & Mitt Romney's Smiles
Sincere or False?

Are the smiles seen here of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney sincere or feigned? The three primary components of a sincere smile are eyelids which are partially closed (in a very particular manner), a relaxed forehead and a mouth which only displays the upper teeth.

For a smile to be a true smile of joy (a Duchenne smile), the eyelids can be partially, nearly closed or even completely shut. This is an absolute must. If they are opened in a normal way, unchanged from a resting state - the smile is insincere, regardless of how the remainder of the face may appear. The eyes can close in several different manners however, so there must also be a concave up furrow in each of the lower lids. Both candidates display this partially (Romney) to complete/near complete (Obama) eyelid closure with lower lid displaying a concave-up furrow (easier visualized in this image on Romney)

It is also essential for the forehead to be completely relaxed. Some varieties of social smiles (forced and insincere) will have a contraction of the the forehead muscles. These are often are accompanied by a false-surprised and open mouth (with teeth showing). Such forehead furrowing always indicates a false smile - and this type of mouth opening indicates a feigned surprise. Both Mitt and Barack are shown here with smooth and relaxed foreheads.

The final major component of a fully expressed, Duchenne smile is an open mouth with only the top teeth showing. The corners of the mouth are pulled primary upwards with a dramatic bunching up (strong contraction) of the cheek muscles (Zygomatic Major muscles). While the possibility of oblique camera angles - or a tall person standing next to someone of short stature certainly exists (thus showing the bottom teeth) - only the upper ones should be displayed in a fully expressed, straight-on, sincere smile. It is also possible for a smile to be partially suppressed with a closed mouth and therefore no teeth exposed - however in such situations the forehead will still be relaxed and the eyes will still be characteristically partially closed. Another exception of course exists if one has had dental problems or injury and has lost all their upper teeth - this does not preclude a true, joyous and sincere smile.

Both men have true and sincere smiles in this image .... but who will be still smiling on November 6th?

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 353: Brad Pitt's Smiling Eyes - Sincere and Insincere Smiles

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1010: What Makes the Twinkle in Rashida Jones' Eye?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2099:  Nikki Haley & Sarah Palin - Governors in Contrast

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2095: Canoodling with the Weather-Girl

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1758: Predicting a Boxing Match Based on Body Language - Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto Fight

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2150: Body Language Advice for President Obama and Governor Romney for the Second Debate

Nonverbal Intelligence Quiz-Analysis # 2110: Pizza Guy - Scott Van Duzer's Bear-Hug Encounter with President Obama - Staged or Real?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1171: Not So Fast Swift .... Taylor's False Surprise

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2151: Las Vegas Channel 8 KLAS Interview - Body Language to Look For in Tonight's Debate - Evaluation of Earlier Debates

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2152: Second Presidential Debate - 16 October 2012 - Barack Obama's Duping Delight - Benghazi, Libya Attack was an "Act of Terror" - Alpha, Beta, Confidence & Acquiescence ....