Friday, June 1, 2018

Body Language Analysis No. 4296: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Chokes Up - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence

On Wednesday 30 May, during a White House Press Briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders choked up in response to a question from a 13-year-old boy (Benjamin Choucroun). What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of this exchange.

BENJAMIN CHOUCROUN (beginning at 13:02): At my school, we recently had a lockdown drill. One thing that affects mine and other students’ mental health is the worry about the fact that we or our friends could get shot at school. Specifically, can you tell me what the administration has done and will do to prevent these senseless tragedies?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think that ahhh - as a kid, and certainly as a parent, there is nothing that could be more terrifying for a kid to go to school and not feel safe. So I’m sorry that you feel that way. This administration takes it seriously, and the School Safety Commission that the President convened is meeting this week, again, an official meeting, ah, to discuss the best ways forward and how we can do every single thing within our power to protect kids in our schools and to make them feel safe and make their parents feel good about dropping them off.

During13:05, just after Benjamin Choucroun says, "We recently had a lockdown drill ...", Sarah Huckabee Sanders displays a cluster of:

• Prolonged blinking
• Downward vectored eyebrows
• Jaw Jut
• Nostril Flaring
• Horizontally-stretched and thinned lips
• Tightening Mid-face

During 13:08, just as Mr. Choucroun says the word, "... mental ...", Ms. Sanders creates a relative vacuum in her mouth - thus sucking in her cheeks as she once again displays an extended blink.

This dynamic is indicative of anxiety.

Ms. Huckabee Sanders repeats this sucking-in cheek display once again during 13:09 - 13:10

Then during 13:18 - 13:19, Ms. Huckabee Sanders displays successive hard swallows - indicating additional heightened anxiety.

During 13:22, Ms. Huckabee Sanders displays a Jaw Confessional, just prior to saying, "... as a kid ..."

A Jaw Confessional is characterized by a brief sideways movement of the jaw and it indicates sincerity in what a person says immediately afterward (In this case, "... as a kid - and certainly, as a parent, there is nothing that could be more terrifying for a kid to go to school and not feel safe ...").

As she says, "... terrifying ...", Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

• Pulls away her torso and head away from the audience
• Her Voice cracks
• Voice grows higher in pitch
• Inner (medial) eyebrows vector downward
• Mouth takes on a sad configuration

A Jaw Jut betrays her surge in adrenaline, just after she says, "... terrifying ..."

As she says "... safe ..." (at the end of the sentence, "... for a kid to go to school and not feel safe ..."), her face grows sadder (note down-turned inner (medial) eyebrows - as well as her down-turned mouth corners).

Once again, her voice grows higher in pitch - and it cracks.

Yet less than a second later, the White House Press Secretary is trying to smile.

But during 13:28, as she says, "... I'm sorry ...", her facial expression again becomes more empathetically-sad.

And yet, she continues her sentence with, "... I'm sorry that you feel that way ...". From a statement analysis perspective, this phrase is not apologizing at all. It's as if she's saying, "You may feel that way, but your feelings aren't based on reality. Your feelings aren't objective". It invalidates his experience and perspective. This specific statement overlaps with emotions of contempt and refusal to admit any responsibility.

At the end of this same sentence, as she says the word, "... way ...", (13:30) she looks down to her right (the corner we most frequently look to [by far] when experiencing emotional pain) - as she is trying to smile.

SUMMARY: During this exchange, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is experiencing strong cognitive and emotional dissonance. There are nonverbal (as well as verbal and paralanguage) elements of both sincerity and insincerity. This is because she's experiencing the emotional tension between what she feels as an individual - and what she's required to think-feel-say as the White House Press Secretary. It's a truly Jekyll and Hyde moment. This is Sophocles' Antigone - but with the opposite ending.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4195: Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, and Red Flags

Body Language Analysis No. 4293: Why is Harvey Weinstein Smiling?

Body Language Analysis No. 4291: Donald Trump and Disguising Disgust - "I don't know who the hell wrote that line"

Body Language Analysis No. 4289: A Royal Wedding, Suppression of Tears, and Meghan Markle's Mom

Body Language Analysis No. 4276: Waffle House Hero James Shaw Jr. Meets His NBA Idol Dwyane Wade

Body Language Analysis No. 4264: Criminal Profiling • Sketch of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) Over Her Affair with Donald Trump

Body Language Analysis No. 4235: Beware the Ides of March • Donald Trump removing H.R. McMaster

Body Language Analysis No. 4155: Luis Elizondo Interview - Former Military Intelligence Official Who Ran AATIP (The Pentagon's Secret UFO Unit)

Body Language Analysis No. 4099: Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, and Jim Leavelle