Sunday, October 14, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2148:
Joe Biden vs. Paul Ryan and the
"Self-Righteous Head Wiggle" in the Vice Presidential Debate

During the 0:51 - 0:54 segment of this CNN video regarding last Thursdays U.S.Vice Presidential Debate, Rep. Paul Ryan exhibits a classic nonverbal known as a "Self-Righteous Head Wiggle" (SRHW)" as he says, " ....Mr. Vice President, I know, Mr. Vice President, I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground ... " The self-righteous head wiggle is a rapid side-to-side motion of the head very often seen simultaneously with a definitive verbal statement. Often the SRHW is accompanied by a similar back-and-forth motion of the torso and/or jaw. Here we also see a very slight forward motion to the head - this movement will often be more pronounced - and usually is when there is a more hierarchical scenario present (Biden of course currently out-ranks Ryan). When an additional backward motion (with head/neck and/or torso) is seen with the SRHW - it's a body language signal that another emotion co-exists - incredulity.

The self-righteous head wiggle tends to be seen with strong alpha personalities in settings where those displaying it feel the need to be assertive. Ryan's palm down illustrator further amplifies his assertive stance (0:48 - 0:54) - although his finger-open configuration "softens" this body language a good amount. The SRHW, like 99.9+% of all body language, is initiated and performed subconsciously. And rarely do emotions exist in isolation - with the SRHW look for the additional negative emotions overlaying the self-righteousness - such as anger, contempt, disgust and, as mentioned above, incredulity. Its display should be strongly avoided when rapport is a goal - for it will surely sabotage agreements and burn bridges.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2102: The Self-Righteous Head Wiggle and the Conventional Steeple vs. Basketball Steeple

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2113: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, the U.S. and the Self-Righteous Head Wiggle

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2130: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Helping Syria - Interview with Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell

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

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1923: Hillary Clinton's Body Language re: Syrian Government - The Self-Righteous Head Wiggle