Elle Fanning was recently a guest on The Tonight Show. In the telling of her story of her encounter with Channing Tatum at a Beyoncé concert, Ms. Fanning repeatedly displayed a particularly common, although rarely understood nonverbal behavior - known as "Hair Adjust Behind the Ear" - aka HABE.
Adjusting the hair behind one's ear is very commonly dismissed as "habit" or tic-like behavior (which it may well be, to some degree). Body language novices may describe it as a "preening behavior". And while it does, in a general sense, fit within the category of preening, it has a much more precise meaning.
A HABE also fits into a class of behaviors termed "MAPs" (Manipulators, Adaptors, Pacifiers) - in short, these are a variety of self-touching body language displays . When a HABE is used, it indicates level of anxiety (a common occasion is within the sub-context of embarrassment, as Ms. Fanning is experiencing) - but even more specifically, it shows that a person both recognizes and feels the need to be more assertive and thus "Up-Regulate" their alpha qualities (e.g., "I need to step it up"). This is often referred to as "Dialing Up One's Alpha".
You may note that the Hair Adjust Behind the Ear behavior is more common in women - yet this is only because of the current social tendency for women to have longer hair (it is used by shorter-haired women as well as men too, just not as frequently). And while of course, longer hair does occasionally need to be moved out one's way - it occurs much frequently when assertiveness is necessary.
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3797: Donald Trump's Out of Context Christmas Tweet
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3795: Donald Trump's White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer comments regarding Trump's, "Let It Be An Arms Race" Statement
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3793: Donald Trump Comments Regarding Berlin Attack
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3738: Gary Johnson Loses His Temper
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3652: Simone Manuel & Penny Oleksiak Win Olympic Gold
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3604: Nigel Farage, Jean-Claude Juncker, The Brexit and "Why Are You Here?"
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3535: Prince, Sexual Signals and Body Language
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3506: Jake Gyllenhaal Bombed His Lord of the Rings Audition