Friday, July 13, 2018

Body Language Analysis No. 4320: Peter Strzok's Congressional Hearing - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Peter Strzok, an FBI Deputy Assistant Director, testified before the U.S. House Judiciary and Oversight Committees yesterday. Most anyone who watched the nearly 10-hour event would agree that it was the one of the most raucous and chaotic in memory - abundant with yelling and deeply personal exchanges. What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of Peter Strzok's opening statement.

PETER STRZOK: (beginning at 0:01): Chairmen Goodlatte and Gowdy, Ranking Members Nadler and Cummings. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before your committees again, this time in an open hearing Ω.  I testify today with significant regret Ω, recognizing that my texts have created confusion and caused pain for people I love Ω. Certain private messages of mine have provided ammunition for misguided attacks against the FBI Ω, an institution I love deeply and have served proudly for more than 20 years.

At four times during this first paragraph of his opening statement, Mr. Strzok displays expressions of regret. These are each notated above with a Ω symbol.

The second instance occurs the instant after he says, "I testify today with significant regret..." (shown in the image immediately above).

This nonverbal variation of regret is extremely common and is most notably characterized by a lateral vectoring of the corner of a closed mouth (in this example, Strzok's left). In this example, because Strzok's head is tilted down - the mouth corner gives the false appearance of being a bit up-turned. To an unskilled observer, it may appear as a halfhearted attempt at a smile - but it's nothing of the sort. This is indeed indicative of regret.

If one only reads his statement without watching the video - the emotion of regret would be expected and contextual. This is a beautiful example of the nonverbal, verbal - as well as vocal qualities (a subset of paralanguage) - all being simultaneous and congruent. Peter Strzok's regret is truly sincere.

You probably didn't notice, but Peter Strzok has a facial idiosyncrasy. When he speaks - he tends, rather significantly, to speak out of the right side of his mouth (similar to, but not with quite the extreme as former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson). Strzok's style of asymmetry, at times, gives him the appearance of projecting and feeling contempt - the vast majority of times even when he's not experiencing any such emotion. He does this throughout his hearing.

This one-sided facial dynamic may have its origin from an old injury or other medical condition (with the left side of the face being hypo-reactive) - or it may be resulting from a tic-like behavior. Of course, this does not exempt Peter Strzok from feeling contempt - however, others will over-interpret and erroneously assign him this emotion (both subconsciously and consciously).

Continuing at 1:08, Mr. Strzok said, "At times my criticism was blunt, but despite how it’s been characterized, it was not limited to one person or one party – I criticized various countries and politicians, including Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders, then-candidate Trump and others ."

At the very end of this sentence, Peter Strzok displays a Loose Tongue Jut (1:26 - 1:27, as seen in the image immediately above). A loose tongue jut indicates the thought-emotion of "I've been bad", "I've been caught", and/or "I've done a foolish thing" (Navarro). This is yet another nonverbal signal which is displayed completely within context. Strzok DID get caught - and he was critical of three presidential candidates.

Be cautious, so as not to confuse a Loose Tongue Jut with a Tight Tongue Jut or a Wide Open Tongue Jut - all of which have completely different meanings.

At 2:04, just after Peter Strzok says, "... I understand that my sworn testimony will not be enough for some people" - Strzok's attorney, Aitan Goelman, sitting behind him and a bit to his left can be seen suddenly covering his mouth. This is a loud and clear indicator that Mr. Goelman did not want Mr. Strzok to say this.

During his statement, "This investigation is not politically motivated" (3:46 - 3:48). Peter Strzok displays what is known as a Self-Righteous Head Wiggle (aka High-Confidence Head Wiggle).

A Self-Righteous Head Wiggle (SRHW) is a side-to-side, relatively rapid oscillation of the head and neck. It's often simultaneous with a similar movement of the torso. Sometimes the SRHW will be very short-lived (a near-microexpression) - however, as in this example, it can be of longer duration.

The Self-Righteous Head Wiggle is commonly expressed behavior in people during hyper-alpha moments - expressing especially high confidence and particularly strong opinions.

The SRHW is initiated subconsciously. It's constructive to think of it as a variety of nonverbal swagger. This body language is also strongly correlative with a person who is being truthful.

It's also important to note that the motions of an SRHW are impossible to represent with a still image - please watch the video to fully appreciate the dynamics of this behavior. 

SUMMARY: Upon detailed nonverbal analysis of the video segment included here, Peter Strzok is being sincere. More specifically, at no time was Mr. Strzok being deceptive. The FBI Deputy Assistant Director is telling the truth.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 3949 (Re-posting): Donald Trump Shoves Montenegro's PM Dusko Markovic at NATO Summit

Body Language Analysis No. 4318: Jim Jordan regarding Allegations of Ignoring Knowledge of Sexual Abuse at Ohio State

Body Language Analysis No. 4316: Sarah Paulson, The Met Gala, and Madonna

Body Language Analysis No. 4314: Donald Trump, The Supreme Court, Abortion, and Punishment

Body Language Analysis No. 4299: Bill Clinton confronted regarding Monica Lewinsky Affair

Body Language Analysis No. 4295: Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos, and Red Flags

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3381: Ariana Grande, Flirtatious Body Language and the American Music Awards

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. 4199: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, and their Mission Impossible Helicopter Stunt