Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2061:
David Cameron Defends London Olympics against
Mitt Romney's Remarks -
Alpha Dominance and Illustrators -
Matching Hands and Feet as Sincerity Amplifiers

In the above video, the Prime Minister of the U.K., David Cameron, exemplifies an assertive alpha-dominant illustrator with both hands. An illustrator is a body language term used to describe a nonverbal display which illustrates, emphasizes, animates, underlines, etc. the coexistent verbal message. The most common sited illustrators involve the hands/arms, however the facial illustrators are displayed just as frequently and even the rest of the body may contribute .... see below.

Mr. Cameron is left-handed, so it is important to note how he immediately begins his reply illustrating with a vertical left hand chop (as he shifts his weight to his left foot/left side of his body) when asked about Mitt Romney's blundering remarks regarding possible organizational and logistic problems with the 2012 Summer Olympics beginning tomorrow in London. This upper extremity-lower extremity matching is an example of a "nonverbal sincerity amplifier". Coupled together with favoring his dominant side at the beginning of his statement - adds greater credibility and honesty to our interpretation of his statement. He weight shifts back and forth during this video, with his hand gestures matching the side of the body where his weight is favored. If the left hand were illustrating with the weight on his right foot (or vise versa) - or if he preferred his non-dominant side - either of these should heighten our awareness towards possible deception/insincerity. 

The only time such insincerity is seen here is when he leans/shifts to his right at 1:11 (non-dominant side), stutters a bit with an awkward, " .... So I'll obviously make those points to ahhh ... Mitt Romney ... I'm looking forward to our meeting (leans to right) ... ahhh ... later today." It is well known that David Cameron and Barack Obama have a friendship above and beyond the etiquette shown between heads-of-state ( and Mitt Romney's criticisms of the London games certainly didn't help matters).

The vertical hand chop is a commonly seen in displayed by alpha personalities when they are making definitive and assertive statements and responses (please note however - the "finger-point-hand-chop", particularly when being confronted/accused of a lie has a completely different meaning). 

Another advantage of the Prime Minister's style of hand chop - is the additional sub-component of the "thumbs-up"- not always displayed - but engenders optimism. David Cameron used it throughout this press conference and with particular prowess at the 0:28 - 0:29 mark, when he pointed to the Olympic park over his (again dominant) left shoulder.

See also:

Analysis # 2037: When Chanel Suits Don't Match the Body Language - Christine Lagarde's High Anxiety