Saturday, July 4, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3236: A Common Body Language Disparity Display - Donald Trump (PHOTOS)

Politicians are always giving the "Thumbs Up" sign. Richard Nixon did it, Ronald Reagan did it and so did Bill Clinton. Many people will tell you that the thumbs up nonverbal arose out of ancient Rome - the spectators' signal as to whether a gladiator should live or die. However some historians will say this is apocryphal  - a re-write of history which had its origins from artwork of the 19th Century (Pollice Verso, 1872 painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme). Regardless of its origins, the thumbs up body language gesture has come to mean an enthusiastic statement of the affirmative, proceed with your current action, you're on the correct path and or a simple yes.

Donald Trump probably uses the thumbs-up illustrator more often than most politicians. Regardless of party or country, a phenomenon associated with this gesture is that the facial expression is very often incongruent with the optimism an upward pointing thumb is supposed to be projecting. When the hands are not in agreement with the face - what is the true emotion? Are they both somehow correct? Hmmm.

The thumbs up display is a very conscious nonverbal signal - however the simultaneous facial expression is virtually always subconsciously generated. This is an excellent example of what in body language nomenclature is known as "leakage". A significant amount of mental energy and effort (albeit brief) is dedicated to the action of thinking about and then displaying this hand gesture. In this evanescence of the thumbs-up illustrator, the remainder of the mind's filter has a lower threshold to social norms and acting. Thus everything except the hand/arm becomes a bit more transparent - allowing us to glimpse into the psyche for a second. The facial expression of true emotion "leaks" out - when normally it would be more contained.

These four images of Mr. Trump all show him with his thumb(s) vectored upward - yet they all four have different facial expressions. And his face tells the real story.

Take home point: When there is a disparity between the conscious and the subconscious body language signals - the true emotions are revealed in those nonverbals initiated subconsciously.

In the first image (above) Mr. Trump's facial expression is primarily that of (subtle) anger. What is his secondary emotion?

This second image reveals Mr. Trump at a moment where his face is close to a sincere smile - close, but not quite sincere. What is/are the specific characteristic(s) here which tells us this is not complete sincerity?

In this instant, Donald Trump's thumb is saying yes, but his face (his true emotion) is projecting disgust.

Donald Trump is displaying two emotions here - the more prevalent one is incredulity - while contempt comes in second. 

What emotion is often seen when contempt and disbelief coexist?

If a person made this expression often, what other personality tendency would she/he most likely have?

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3235: Jim Webb Announces His Presidential Bid .... and some Body Language Weakness

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2763: Richard Nixon, My Lai Massacre - Conscious and Subconscious Body Language Display

Negotiation Body Language Secret No. 441:  Bill Clinton's Rapport and His Temporary Universe

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2861: Ronald Reagan and Variations on Thumbs-Up Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3152: Hillary Clinton First Campaign Ad - "Getting Started" 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2426:  Remembering Ronald Reagan,  "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall"  Body Language at the Brandenburg Gate 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2674: Did Chris Christie Orchestrate Bridge Closure or Cover Up His Subordinates Actions? Body Language Tells Us ...