Saturday, June 30, 2018

Body Language Analysis No. 4314: Donald Trump, The Supreme Court, Abortion, and Punishment - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

In the light of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy's announcement of his retirement from the Supreme Court, the interview included here is profoundly important. In March 2016, Chris Matthews spoke with then-candidate Trump in a town hall type setting. One of the questions Mr. Matthews pressed Mr. Trump on was that of abortion - and specifically, because Trump believes abortions should be illegal - what was his view on the issue of punishment for women who undergo abortions?

In this image (captured from the above video during 2:16) - when Mr. Trump was attempting to formulate his response to Chris Matthews' question of, "... Do you believe in punishment for abortion - yes or no - as a principle?".

Donald Trump commonly displays several nonverbal signals which are distinctly beta (and feminine). One of these is exampled here. This display is much more commonly seen with women and gay men - but when it's displayed by a straight man, it projects a low-confidence/unsure/beta emotional tone.

Note the position of Trump's right wrist. It's extended (bent backward) close to its maximum. When a straight man displays this body language, it sends signals of low confidence. Moreover, when coupled with an upper arm that's positioned very closely to the torso (as we also see Trump doing), this nonverbal behavior cluster transmits even deeper beta and unsure emotions.

Notice also, Trump's eyes are looking up - fixated in the distance (middle-distance). This is a common direction of gaze and focus behavior associated with the formulation of an answer.

Then, just a couple of seconds later (2:18 - 2:20), once Trump makes up his mind ("... there has to be some form of punishment - Yeah. There has to be some form."), he first positions his hand in a vertically straight, ready-to-chop fashion, and then proceeds to quickly chop his hand in a very assertive (even hyper-assertive), decisive, alpha manner. Trump commonly uses this gesture - however, it's not typically temporally juxtaposed with a hyper-beta display as he does here. 

SUMMARY: Donald Trump had not thought through this question prior to Chris Matthews asking it. The candidate's nonverbal behavior displayed here - a low confidence signal followed rapidly by a high-confidence signal - is a window into the unsure mind of a person formulating his decision in that moment. We are seeing cognitive dissonance followed by a decision and absolutism. Upon deciding, Mr. Trump rapidly emotionally morphs into the bravado of hyper-confidence.

Moreover, in this particular context, his hand-chop also projects the additional visual metaphor of severe punishment for abortion.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4312: South Korea Defeats Germany at The World Cup

Body Language & Emotional Intelligence - Analysis No. 4311: Jeff Sessions, "We never really intended to do that"

Body Language Analysis No. 4309: The Little Girl in Red, "Tender Age" shelters, and Empathy

Body Language Analysis No. 4307: Jeff Sessions cites Bible Passage to Justify Separating Children From Parents

Body Language Analysis No. 4302: G7 Leaders Surrounding Donald Trump

Body Language Analysis No. 4286: Aaron Schlossberg's Racist Rant

Body Language Analysis No. 4262: Wendy Vitter, the U.S. District Court, and Brown v. Board of Education

Body Language Analysis No. 4244: Stormy Daniels' 60 Minutes Interview

Body Language Analysis No. 4016: Anthony Scaramucci - Faux Pas and Harbingers