Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3326: Donald Trump on 60 Minutes - Body Language Tells (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Last Sunday on 60 Minutes Scott Pelley interviewed Donald Trump. Mr. Pelley asked Mr. Trump about the anti-Muslim comments and a question by an audience member - and why Trump "let that pass". During Trump's explanation he adopted the body language shown in the first image below (captured during 0:59).

Ignoring Mr. Trump's face for a moment, we can see three very clear nonverbal signals which are alpha to hyper-alpha in nature.

Leaning forward toward Pelley with his back away from the chair - taken in isolation - shows mental engagement, concentration and assertiveness. Too few politicians adopt a leaning forward posture - rather they sit back and cross their legs during very crucial discussions (projecting emotional dissonance, aloofness and a feigned relax mindset). This component of Trump's body language is alpha and recommended.

Upon further evaluation though, we notice how far Mr. Trump's legs are spread very far apart. This is a fairly extreme example of what is termed "Man-Spreading" or the "Seated Crotch Display". Almost exclusively displayed by men, this nonverbal is hyper-alpha in amplitude and projects dominance or, with other co-existing signals (not present here) sexual attraction. While no one should want a shrinking violet or beta personality for their president (or similarly frequent acquiescing body language), the vast majority of the time such man-spreading is strongly discouraged.

Additionally Trump's hands are adopting a conventional steeple position (more specifically, a low, conventional steeple). This is also a hyper-alpha nonverbal. And as with most alpha displays - most people who use them - end up over using them. The projection of arrogance and condescending emotions are especially strong.

Donald Trump's body language is always "screaming". Said another way, he uses so many alpha signals and on such a constant basis (including of course his face which is discussed some below) - that his nonverbal signals are truly yelling at the audience. This constant hyper-alpha behavior is very polarizing - thus people who like him will be galvanized with him and those in middle and the left will be repelled (as with any politician).

Trump's nonverbal behavior is highly congruent with his polarizing words and statements. A very telling paralanguage phenomenon is exemplified here when Trump says, "... the Muslims ..." (rather than simply "Muslims"). He has also has said on multiple occasions, "... the Blacks ..." and "... the Hispanics ...". The use of the word "the" prior to another group, ethnicity, religion, etc. is an extremely classic paralanguage tell of distancing behavior and prejudice. And although the image immediately below is blurry, the instant Trump begins the word "Muslim" (at 1:11 when he says, "... I love the Muslims ...") he shows a clear microexpression of contempt. Donald Trump is telling a blatant lie (This should remind anyone who has studied history of Pre-WWII Nazi propaganda - e.g. "The Jews").

A second later (during 1:12, captured below) as Trump says, "... I have many, many friends - people living in this building - Muslims ... " - yet his facial expression tells us he feels both anger and contempt toward people who are also Muslim.

Below he continues, "... they're phenomenal people ...." (1:15) - where he displays a combination of both anger and disgust. Again, this nonverbal cluster display betrays Trump's true emotions.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3325: Vladimir Putin, the United Nations, Russian Soil and Confidence Levels

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3299: Kim Davis, Contempt-of-Court, Same-Sex Marriages and Body Language 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3204: "Inside Out" Movie Clip - Mostly Correct, but some Wrong Expressions for Emotion-Characters

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2640: Disgust at Denver area School Shooting 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3262: Donald Trump, Breast Pumping and Donald's "That's Disgusting" 

This website serves as an objective reference source for the science and art of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc. are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts – not to advance any political, religious or other agenda.