Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2375:
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and a
Body Language False Positive

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was featured this morning on "Face the Nation". He spoke about the recent bombings during last Monday's Boston Marathon as well as the man hunt for the now killed and captured suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev

At multiple times during the above video, Governor Patrick's left forehead contracts, while his right forehead is either hypo-reactive or shows essentially no reaction at all. An example of one of these moments is captured in the image below. A casual observer and/or body language novice may very well FALSELY interpret this as a nonverbal signal of: incredulity, contempt, an insincere smile or duping delight. However none of these emotions nor their nonverbals are present here. This FALSE expression is due to a (peripheral) Facial Nerve (Cranial Nerve VII) palsy on Patrick's right side. When all other causes are ruled out (aka a "Diagnosis of Exclusion") this diagnosis is termed "Bell's Palsy". 

Additional findings which support the diagnosis of a right-sided peripheral cranial nerve VII palsy is the relative lack of muscular tone in the Governor's right cheek muscles (zygomaticus major and to a lesser extent the zygomaticus minor). Contrast this contraction with that of his left cheek and it's decreased tone.

Moreover when the corners of Deval's mouth are scrutinized, you will note the right upper lip & corner slopes downward - while his left upper lip & mouth corner slopes steeper (an indication of greater muscle tone) and meets with lip meets the corner in a delta-shaped dimpling. The left "mustache area" shows more muscle tone compared to the right. Again these are manifestations of a right-sided Facial nerve palsy. 

Of course, Deval Patrick will feel and thus display the body language of disbelief, contempt, duping delight and an insincere smile - just as any other human being. However one must be meticulously observant and take the time to establish a norm (normal baseline behavior) before an accurate and unbiased nonverbal assessment can be made. I cannot find any reference to this palsy with Governor Patrick. Perhaps it is a recent ailment or my search was incomplete. However, he would be well-advised to make such an announcement to the press if he has not already done so.

See also:

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1267:  John McCain, Sarah Palin and Bell's Palsy

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2312:  Bruce Willis' Body Language - Contempt vs. Suppressed Smile vs.  Pseudo Smile vs. Sincere Smile

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2191:  Anne Hathaway's Impersonation of Katie Holmes on SNL -  "Norming" Katie and Variations on a Theme

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1919:  The Asymmetrical Smile - we all use this Body Language ....  but Mitt Romney displays it too often 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2356:  Michelle Obama's "as a Busy Single Mother" comment -  What her Body Language Tells Us 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis #2292:  Mercedes Benz CLA Super Bowl Commercial "Soul"  Willem Dafoe's Body Language as the Devil 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2264:  Kate Middleton's First Portrait as Duchess of Cambridge  Captures Body Language of  Contempt, Disapproval and Fatigue

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2373:  We Feel Contempt towards  Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev - What Does His Body Language Reveal? 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2372:  Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects -  A Common Pre-Crime Body Language Pattern

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2369:  Pat Toomey Announces  Boston Marathon Bombings on Senate Floor - Body Language of Sincerity and Empathy