President Obama appeared on The Daily Show last week. Of course there was a multitude of body language signals displayed by both men. However one displayed by Barack Obama when Jon Stewart asked about the Nuclear Arms Agreement with Iran - is very revealing, fairly common and yet rarely discussed.
Beginning at 7:21, Mr. Obama continues, ".... and when you hear the critics talk about, 'Well, it's a bad deal, we coulda, coulda got a better deal', you then ask them, 'Well what represents a better deal? What is it that you think, ah, could happen?' Typically they're vague and the fall back on, 'Well, if you'd, ah, beat your chest a little bit more and [pauses] .....' "
When he says, ".... more and ..... (and during a bit of the pause afterwards), we see Mr. Obama's whole torso oscillate back and forth. Though to some this may look like an example of a "Self-Righteous Head Wiggle" (SRHW) - it's not. This is its nonverbal cousin known as a "Sarcastic Bobble" - which has similar but important physical and emotional distinctions. The Sarcastic Bobble involves primarily the torso (although of course, there is a secondary head movement) - in contrast to the SRHW which usually (although not always) is primarily a head-neck phenomena (see links below). In addition, the SRHW is typically expressed with a more rapid movement (higher frequency) vs. the Sarcastic Bobble.
The Sarcastic Bobble, as its name suggests, is a sardonic body language expression which mocks another person or group. In this context, Mr. Obama is belittling many in the American Republican Party - who oppose the Iran Nuclear Arms deal. To nuance this further, the Sarcastic Bobble is usually seen when mocking: hubris, naïveté, over-simplification, inexperience or lack of insight. It's important to note, this illustrator is, of course, SUBJECTIVE with respect to the person expressing it. Not surprisingly, the Sarcastic Bobble is not rapport-building, but rapport-destroying. It should essentially never be used during negotiation or when trying to build coalition - except perhaps to point out opinions regarding a third party who is not present.
This behavior cannot be accurately captured in a still image - please view the video to appreciate it in a dynamic context.
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