Monday, January 23, 2017

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3827: Sean Spicer's Saturday Night Press Briefing - Body Language and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTO)

On Saturday night, Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, held a press briefing of sorts. In his now infamous appearance, Mr. Spicer took no question but read a series of statements largely defending the size of the crowds at Donald Trump's inauguration as well as the number who attended President Trump's appearance earlier on Saturday at CIA headquarters.

You don't need to be a body language expert to determine that Sean Spicer's primary emotion throughout this appearance was that of anger. There were, however, a number of secondary emotions displayed - and a particularly out-of-place one is discussed here.

Beginning at 2:54 in the above video, Sean Spicer continues, "... These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the Inauguration are shameful and wrong. The President was also at the center - as you know, the President was also at the Central Intelligence Agency today - and greeted by a raucous overflow crowd of some 400 plus CIA employees.  There were over 1,000 requests to attend, prompting the President to note that he'll have to come back to greet the rest. The employees were ecstatic that he's the new Commander-in-Chief, and he delivered them a powerful and important message. He told them he has their back - and they were grateful for that ..."

During 3:13, just as Mr. Spicer says, "... prompting ..." (captured in image above and highlighted below), and specifically during the first syllable, he displays what in nonverbal parlance is known as a microexpression. This specific microexpression was that of Joy-Happiness and is very notable on the right side (his right) of Sean Spicer's face. Pay special attention to the upward vectoring of his right cheek muscle (zygomaticus major). Note how it bunches the cheek upward - while his left cheek is not being pulled up. The right corner of Spicer's mouth also follows this same dynamic. Watch the video at normal speed, then at 1/2 and 1/4 speed. This is an outstanding example of a microexpression.

Same image as the previous image, with highlights

Why was this sincere smile being suppressed and only displayed for a fraction of a second? Was the thought of Donald Trump drawing a crowd of 400 CIA employees with 1,000 total requests really eliciting the emotion of joy-happiness in Sean Spicer? It is possible. Yet, when we view this in context - a burst of a tenth of a second of sincere joy-happiness in the midst of sea of nearly six constant minutes of anger strongly suggests Sean Spicer was not being completely truthful.

The joy sometimes felt when one believes one is successfully deceiving other people - is very often manifested as a flash of a suppressed yet sincere smile for a very short duration - as is seen here and is termed "Duping Delight". This is one type of what is known as a "Microexpression". A multitude of emotions can be manifested via microexpressions. Alternatively, these same emotions can also occur for longer duration (e.g., several seconds) in a subtle and suppressed manner (termed "Subtle Emotional Displays" or "Subtle Expressions").

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3826: Kellyanne Conway to Chuck Todd, Press Secretary Sean Spicer Gave 'Alternative Facts'

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3824: Donald Trump's Inaugural Speech - Three Ways of Pointing

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3822: Betsy DeVos Confirmation Hearing

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3808: Felicity Jones' Sincere Smile

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3792: Notre Dame's Matt Farrell and Family Surprised by Brother Bo's Military Homecoming at Basketball Game

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3781: Emma Stone and a Sign of Sincere Laughter

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3769: Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3739: Hillary Clinton's Statement regarding FBI Probe

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3690: Stan Wawrinka beats Novak Djokovic to win US Open

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3652: Simone Manuel & Penny Oleksiak Win Olympic Gold