Monday, September 9, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2516: Bashar al-Assad's Interview with Charlie Rose - Body Language Tells, Part I (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Yesterday Charlie Rose interviewed Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. This was the only television interview of al-Assad since President Obama asked congress for an endorsement to attack Syria in retaliation for that government's chemical weapon usage on its own citizens. Below is a partial analysis of the Syrian President's body language and sheds significant light on the dictator's emotional tone.

Note: The original video has, since the original post, been removed from its online source. The images below however, were captured from this video

At 0:51, Charlie Rose says, "Even at this date you are not sure that chemical weapons, even though you have seen the video tape, even though you've seen the bodies, even though your own officials have been there ...", al-Assad retorts, "... No, I ... No, I ... I haven't finished. Our soldiers in another area were attacked chemically. Our soldiers...."

At 1:02, as al-Assad says the first syllable of the first word "...soldiers...", he displays a nonverbal expression of contempt. While other signs of contempt have different appearances, this configuration is the most common - easily recognized by the unilateral "snarl" appearance where his (left) upper lip and left "mustache area" tighten and vectors primarily upwards. This is accompanied by a simultaneous nostril flaring (dilation) on the same side. In addition these nonverbals are accompanied here by another common component of contempt - the partial unilateral eyelid closure (his left in this example). This cluster is very short in duration (lasting just fractions of a second) and thus is classified as an example of a "microexpression".

In this image from 1:06, al-Assad demonstrates a nonverbal cluster that is particularly troubling. It also happens that this is a facial expression that al-Assad commits often. Note that there is a contraction of his central forehead - here it is mild yet it is quite significant. The central forehead contraction (aka CFC) is seen when there is physical or emotional pain, either for oneself or for another person via empathy. However in these contexts there should ALWAYS be an expression of pain, sorrow, fear expression of the mouth. Yet here we see the CFC occurring along with a mouth smile. This is always a bad combination. Everyone displays this expression on occasion; however those who display this nonverbal cluster CHRONICALLY are narcissists, sociopaths or worse. As mentioned, the Syrian President exemplifies this face very often.

This expression is displayed just after Mr. al-Assad referred said, "...Our Soldiers" (the second time) at 1:08. Note he has his right eyebrow raised, maintains a mild central forehead contraction and still has a mild mouth smile together with a forward head tilt.

This nonverbal cluster says, "I am correct, you know I am. Admit it. You are wrong."

At 1:31 al-Assad begins, "...We're not like the American administration. We're not social media administration, our government. We are the government that deal with reality. When we have evidences we will announce." At 1:33 as he begins the fourth syllable of the word "administration", the Syrian dictator displays another excellent example of a microexpression of contempt.

This expression cluster at 1:41 (as he says "announce" noted in sentence above) is a good example of an anger cluster together with incredulity. While his inner eyelids are drawn together and downwards (indicative of anger), al-Assad's right lateral eyebrow is elevated - expressing disbelief.

In addition note this highly characteristic mouth display showing that his lips are very much thinned out and horizontally straight (slight appearance/illusion of upturned mouth corners due to the angle of his downward tilted head-neck).

Also his mildly opened eyelids and lower lid tension together with the dilated nostrils complete this fairly intense nonverbal anger cluster.

What other telling body language does al-Assad display?

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2509:  Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Al'Afari Defends al Assad  Body Language of Insincerity, Contempt and ...

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2501:  Bashar al-Assad, Chemical Weapons and a  Body Language Signal of a Sociopath

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 665:  al-Assad's Strong Sign of Insincerity

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1162:  Ahmadinejad, Napoleon, al-Assad and Dominance

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2259:  Game Show Killer Rodney Alcala Gets Two More Sentences - His Body Language Warning Signs

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2492:  Jared Remy Arrested for Murder of His Girlfriend -  Three Jaw Signals in a Cluster,  Thee Body Language Meanings 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2269:  Travis Tygart's (Chief Executive of U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) Body Language re: Lance Armstrong Doping on  "60 Minutes Sports" Interview