Monday, April 9, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1515:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's
Numerous Microexpressions and Subtle
Displays of Contempt

In this video segment, Jay Carney, the current White House Press Secretary, displays numerous signals of contempt during the answering of Norah O'Donnell's and Ed Henry's questions. Multiple macroexpressions and microexpressions are exampled here (most notably, but not limited to the following time-marks: 0:11, 0:14, 0:22, 0:26, 1:00, 1:34, 1:39, 1:48-1:52, 1:58, 2:13-2:18, 2:57, 2:59, 3:11, 3:48). He is defending the context in which the President used the word "unprecedented" when referring to the chances of the Supreme Court over-turning his Health Care Reform Law

Carney makes multiple (verbal) statements consistent with the emotion of contempt, (e.g.: Well, only because a handful of people didn't seem to understand what he was referring to. Of course, he was referring to the fact that it would be unprecedented in the modern era of the Supreme Court, ....", "...That's not what he said, Ed. That's not certainly what he meant. And it was clear to most folks who observe this and understand what is at issue here...", "...Well, it may not be evident to you. It is clear that the President was talking about matters like this that involve the Commerce Clause ..." and several other examples), so his multiple body language displays are entirely expected - if you know what and where to look. Said another way, Carney's verbals and nonverbals are highly congruent in this video. Being a White House Press Secretary is not an easy job. If you held such an important position, would you have a better poker face than Mr. Carney?

In common parlance, the facial expression for contempt resembles a unilateral "snarl". The vast majority of Mr. Carney's contempt is displayed on his left. Most people subconscious is also unilaterally biased.  The lip elevates and the nostril on the same side will flare as the contempt grows less suppressed. There is a tightening and elevation of the "mustache area" as well as a partial closure of the eyelids. The ipsilateral eyebrow is often lowered along with accentuated nasal labial furrow and furrowing of the bridge of the nose. All of these may not be present unless the contempt is extreme. The video example here includes many partial and subtle displays.

In many other settings, where there are not any obvious or even subtle spoken signals of dispute, we often will still see contempt (and other negative emotions) displayed - and therein lies the extreme value of knowing how to interpret others' body language - and project our own in many a varied context. Miss it, dismiss it, or gloss over it at your own risk.

See also: Secret # 1450: Rick Santorum's Contempt and Frown - the Proverbial Twisted Smile

See also: Secret # 457: A Contempt Amplifier

See also: Secret # 101: Contempt Doesn't Sell

See also: Secret # 1407: Auboni Champion-Morin Reunited with Kidnapped Son after 8 years
               Microexpressions of Contempt

See also: Secret # 389: Muammar's Constant Contempt