This exchange between CNN's Brianna Keilar and one of Donald Trump's attorneys, Michael Cohen, rapidly went viral for its high level of awkwardness. Yet when we thin-slice their conversation from a nonverbal perspective we can gain significant insight. What follows is a partial analysis:
When a person speaks out of one side of their mouth, there are several possible causes which should come to mind:
1. Medical or Injury: Certainly injuries can result in long term nerve or muscular deficits. Cerebral vascular accident (Stroke) and other nervous system conditions can also cause an asymmetrical speaking style.
2. Tic-like behavior/Long-Term Habit/Idiosyncratic: While relatively uncommon, it is certainly not rare for a person to have a long-term habit or what may be classified as a facial tic of speaking out of one side of their mouth.
3. Machismo/Swagger: While there is some overlap between the nonverbal swagger via speaking out of one side of the mouth overlapping with a manifestation of insincerity-deception, it's helpful to consider these as separate root causes. Machismo/Swagger is very common in Professional athletes as well as celebrities and as the category implies, this cause is more commonly displayed in men.
4. Insincerity & Deception: In the vast majority of circumstances, there are nonverbal other signals being displayed when deception or insincerity is taking place.
On multiple occasions Mr. Cohen repeats himself with, "Says who?". Note that during these questions as his mouth speaks asymmetrically, he also displays an extended blink with a simultaneous upward movement of his eyebrows and forehead.
During the 20 second segment he displays a hard swallow. At no time did we see him display any hand gestures. Cohen's head and neck extends backward in quick snaps as he repeats his question.
Coupling these nonverbal observations together with his verbal messages and his vocal qualities - which of the four above possibilities do you think is the most likely explanation for Mr. Cohen's asymmetrical speaking style?
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