Monday, April 16, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1552:
The Self-Righteous Head Wiggle &
The Buffett Rule

The Buffett Rule will not be permitted to be debated on the U.S. Senate floor as a result of falling short by nine Senators in a procedural vote earlier today. 

In the video included above, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) voices his disagreement. At several times during this clip, Whitehouse displays an extremely characteristic high frequency head wiggle. This can be seen most notably during the 0:59 - 1:02 time mark, but also at 1:12, 1:17, 1:20 - 1:22, and 1:35. This nonverbal indicates a self-righteous emotional tone. It is extremely reliable and is often seen in the highly educated who have a lot of education and perceived or true power. It is a rapport destroyer. Extricate it. The Self Righteous Head Wiggle (SRHW), like the great majority of nonverbals, is performed subconsciously. It's rare for people to be aware of this body language even in retrospect, let alone in real-time. However, there are ways to bring this and other body language to conscious awareness.

In conversation, when there is a more dynamic disagreement, the SRHW is sometimes seen with a pulling-back of the head & neck. In these cases it is often seen clustered with a facial nonverbal of disgust or contempt

The SRHW can also be seen coupled with a forward motion of the head & neck - and along with a rising of the voice volume and a quickening of speech - this forms a nonverbal-verbal cluster which is the body language equivalent of an exclamation mark. Senator Whitehouse exemplifies a mild example of this at the 1:20 mark.

Based on his body language (not on politics) displayed in this video, I would not pick Senator Whitehouse for a jury.