A friendly reminder: This post and the associated website serve as reference sources for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author. 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.
This video clip from earlier today via CBS's Sunday Morning has gone a bit viral - and understandably so. In this segment, Fox's Sean Hannity and CBS's Ted Koppel throw more than a little mud at each other.
Included here is the transcript of their exchange, followed by a key nonverbal moment with analysis.
SEAN HANNITY (beginning at 5:50): We have to give some credit to the American people that they're somewhat intelligent - and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show.
TED KOPPEL: Yeah
HANNITY: You're not, you're cynical, look at that, you
TED KOPPEL: Yeah, I'm cynical because ah, you know
HANNITY: You think we're bad for America?
TED KOPPEL: Yeah
HANNITY: You think I'm bad for America?
TED KOPPEL: Yep
HANNITY: You do?
TED KOPPEL: In the, in the long haul, I think you
TED KOPPEL: and all these opinions shows
HANNITY: That's sad Ted
TED KOPPEL: No, you know why?
HANNITY: That's sad
TED KOPPEL: Because you're very good at what you do and because you have, you have attracted a significantly more [inaudible]
HANNITY: You are selling the American people short
TED KOPPEL: Let me finish [inaudible] Let me finish the sentence
HANNITY: I'm listening
TED KOPPEL: Before you do that
HANNITY: With all due respect
TED KOPPEL: You - yes
HANNITY: Take the floor
TED KOPPEL: You have, you have attracted - people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.
The image above, captured during 6:27, just after Hannity says, "With all due respect" - shows a very good example of an insincere smile.
What are the two primary signals in this moment telegraphing to the astute observer of Hannity's insincerity? What most people see first is his asymmetrical mouth. While an asymmetrical mouth can accompany a sincere smile (e.g., sometimes when it's just beginning - or toward the end of a sincere smile) - when such a unilateral mouth morphology is seen, it should send up significant signals to approach with caution.
His lips are also thinned and narrowed. This classic appearance indicates Hannity is feeling anger - but he is trying to "mask" it.
What many people will overlook is Hannity's forehead. Note there is an Elevated Central Forehead Contraction (CFC) - with an additional component of his right forehead also being elevated. If just one of these forehead signals were present - such a forehead appearance would project insincerity. The forehead must always be relaxed (not contracted) if the smile is to be sincere.
Notice also, Hannity's "mustache area" is tightened (contracted). Additionally, his right nostril is flared (dilated). These findings betray the emotion of contempt.
Summary: In this moment (6:27) Sean Hannity feels incredulity, anger, and contempt - although he is trying to "mask" these emotions with a smile - but he only succeeds in making an insincere one (feigned smile).
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