In the past 48 hours, Hassan Rouhani has been interviewed by several members of the American press. A portion of Christiane Amanpour's dialog with the Iranian President is included in the above video. President Rouhani has a relatively blunted level of baseline nonverbal expressions - particularly when compared with his immediate predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is of course, like the rest of us, only human. Thus for those who know what to look for, multiple body language tells can be detected. Two of these in particular are discussed below.
Amanpour: "So you do have that authorization?"
At 3:51, just has Rouhani says "Yes", he displays a microexpression of disgust. This moment is captured in the above image although it is infinitely better appreciated within the dynamic context of the video. It is subtle yet significant. The President is probably expressing contempt towards Amanpour, since she immediately re-asked a question which he had just answered - although it is possible his disgust is directed elsewhere (such as at The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or his government's structure necessitating him "needing permission" when he believes it is wise to conduct negotiations).
At 5:44, (as Amanpour continues her question) a subtle yet distinct expression of anger can be seen immediately after this as (5:44 - 5:46) President Rouhani tightens up his "mustache area" (This term is used to describe the area above the upper lip and below the nose, regardless of the gender or whether a mustache is present). His upper lip slightly thins out - although this is difficult to see because of the President's mustache. Both nostrils also flare slightly as he inhales a deeper breath. He also tilts his head and neck slightly forward. President Rouhani is feeling significant anger at Amanpour - and with what she alleges is others' incredulity.
Note the multiple rapid blinking - also occurring at 5:44. This is commonly seen in the presence of anger and frustration particularly when there is an attempt at suppression of an outward manifestation of the anger. Interpreted in isolation, such rapid fluttering blinks are highly consistent with anxiety.
President Rouhani is very skilled at suppressing his emotions and his nonverbal expressions - far better than most, however true emotions always leak out if you know for what and where to look.
What important emotions have you missed today?
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