Friday, October 19, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2156:
Barack Obama's Body Language at Al Smith Charity Dinner -
Comedy, White Lies and Facial Touching MAPs

The most common reason people touch their face is not because of a rash, an allergy or a common cold. The most common cause of Facial Touching (Facial MAP aka Manipulator, Adaptor, Pacifier) is anxiety. Certainly there are many reasons for anxiety - but when touching the face, particularly at times of specific point-in-fact statements or when answering factual questions - the probability that deception is being attempted is very significantly elevated. This is even true when everyone knows you're lying - such as a during a joke or obvious hyperbole. The "itching" we feel on portions of our face when a lie is told is very real - it is brought about because of micro neuro-chemical and vascular changes - which in turn occur as a result of the anxiety which arises when a lie is told.

At the Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York last night, both Mitt Romney and President Obama spoke and joked. A good bit of their humor was self-deprecating - but some was at the expense of others. Everyone who follows politics and the events & people being referenced knows the context of these deliberate and comedic lies. Yet sometimes we still glean useful information.

During the 0:13 - 0:15 mark, just after the President Jokes says, " ... Everyone please take your seats otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them ...." Obama scratches his nose with his right index finger. Of course Barack knows that Clint won't be hollering - so the source of his anxiety may very well have to do with his poor comedic delivery, what he feels is a poor joke selection by his writing staff or perhaps due to a less than eloquent and impromptu self-editing of the joke (note the President mispronounces Eastwood's last name).

At the 1:23 mark, the President displays a quick nose touch/scratch with the index finger of his left hand just after he says (paraphrased) that he's hoping Andrew Cuomo will someday be President. Barack is in no way hoping this - and the fact that he uses his left, dominant hand in this MAP display is a nonverbal indicator that he feels this is a "bigger lie".

At the 4:54 mark, Obama touches his nose - in a manner nearly identical to the above Cuomo reference - with his left and dominant index finger after he references the Republican Party's Vice Presidential Candidate, " .... but Paul Ryan assured me that we've only been running for two hours and fifty-something minutes ...." - referencing Ryan's earlier fib (and not so small a deception particularly if you're a runner) and lying (by more than an hour) about his (Ryan's) marathon time. Again, by the President using his left and dominant hand in the display of this body language shows us that he believes this to be a "Pants On Fire" lie.

The democratic presidential candidate then touches his right ear with his right index finger at the 5:27 mark when referencing Honey Boo Boo. Similar to the first example regarding Mr. Eastwood, any anxiety he feels here probably is related to joke selection or something similar - and thus a lesser lie-joke from his point-of-view.

The next time you tell a lie, even a small one - most likely your face will itch. Try not to laugh ... but you probably will scratch.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2155: Body Language Tells at the Second Presidential Debate - Mitt Romney at Attention & President Obama's Disapproval-Subtle Contempt

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2152: Second Presidential Debate - 16 October 2012 - Barack Obama's Duping Delight - Benghazi, Libya Attack was an "Act of Terror" - Alpha, Beta, Confidence& Acquiescence 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1251: Las Vegas Channel 8 KLAS Interview - Body Language in Tonight's Debate - Evaluation of earlier Debates

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2150: Body Language Advice for President Obama and Governor Romney for the Second Debate

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2138: President Obama's Anger During First Debate - An Under-Appreciated Body Language Signal

Nonverbal Analysis # 2137: Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama - First Presidential Debate - Barack's Bad Body Language