Last night during the Republican Debate in Greenville, South Carolina, there was a moment of disagreement between Senator Ted Cruz and the debate moderator, John Dickerson. regarding Supreme Court appointments by presidents in the last year of their final term. This subject was brought to light because of the death of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia announced earlier in the day. This segment exemplified a particular nonverbal illustrator, which in this example, is fairly subtle. As you study body language in increasing detail, you will be well-served to notice these subtle tells - for it's these signals which will give you a profound advantage.
Here is a partial transcript of the above video segment of the debate as well as a partial nonverbal analysis:
CRUZ: Well, we have eighty years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year. And, and lemme say Justice Scalia —
DICKERSON: Just, I’m sorry to interrupt, were nomina -, ah, ah, appointed in an election year? - or is that just there were eighty years happening —
CRUZ: Eighty years of, of not confirming. For example, L.B.J., nominated Abe Fortas. Fortas did, did not get confirmed. He was defeated.
DICKERSON: But Kennedy was confirmed in ‘88.
CRUZ: [Long pause, inhaling, then further pausing] At, No — Kennedy was confirmed in eigh, -‘87.
DICKERSON: He was, he was appoin -, he was appointed in ‘87, confirming -.
CRUZ [Over-talking] He, he was appointed in '88—
DICKERSON: That’s the question, is it appointing or confirming, what's the difference?
CRUZ: In, in this case it’s both. But if I could, could answer it [inaudible]—
DICKERSON: Sorry, I want to get the facts straight for the audience. I apologize. [Audience Booing].
This image was captured during 0:27, just as the Senator from Texas is beginning to say, "... And, and lemme say Justice Scalia ..."
During his preface we can see very good yet subtle example of a what is termed a "Self-Righteous Head Wiggle" (SRHW). The video must be watched to appreciate the dynamics of this display.
A Self-Righteous head wiggle is characterized by a relatively rapid side-to-side head movement - and often includes other body parts such as the torso and the jaw. Here its duration is about a second, so it's classified as a near-microexpression. As mentioned, this example is relatively subtle as well. At other times a SRHW will be displayed for longer periods and with considerably more amplitude. The SRHW is always expressed by those individuals who are relative alpha personalities - and particularly during times of strong opinions and extra high confidence.
Often times, when more extreme, many will describe a feeling of deliberate smugness is being transmitted. Think of the SRHW as a form of nonverbal swagger.
It's also very important to note, Sen. Cruz's prolonged blinking as well as his elevated central forehead contraction (CFC), his elevated inner eyebrows, together with a partial mouth smile. These all constitute a nonverbal cluster which acts as an amplifier to the SRHW - increasing its potency.
What other body language clusters often accompany the self-righteous head wiggle?
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