Sunday, November 4, 2018

Body Language Analysis No. 4356: Donald Trump: "When I can, I tell the truth" - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

On Thursday 1 November 2018, Jonathan Karl of ABC News interviewed President Trump. One of Trump's responses went particularly viral. What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of this interview.

JONATHAN KARL (continuing at 3:49): And finally, I remember, you remember - well on the campaign, you made a promise, you said, "I will never lie to you". So, can you tell me now, honestly, have you - kept that promise at all times? Have you always been truthful?

DONALD TRUMP: (over-talking) Well I try, I mean I do try, I think you try too. You say things about me that are not - necessarily correct. I do try and - ah, I always wanna tell the truth - when I can, I tell the truth. I mean sometimes it turns out to be where something happens - it's different or there's a change - but I always like to be truthful. 

Throughout the great majority of this entire exchange with Karl (including further back in this interview [beginning at 2:12] as the President answers questions regarding the ongoing diaspora of Central American people walking north through Mexico), Trump looks down and to HIS right (with both eyes and to a lesser degree, his head and neck).

Eye contact during deception is an intriguing phenomenon. When someone is telling a lie, the percentage of eye contact they have with the other person (or the camera) is biphasic. It almost always either increases (and thus, often takes on the feel of staring) - or it decreases. Moreover, when their eye contact does decrease, the quadrant to which the liar most often looks is THEIR lower right quadrant (exactly what we see here).

Notice too, the verbal language President Trump used. He never said, "Yes", "Always", "I'm always truthful", or "One-hundred percent" - rather Trump said:

• "Well I try"
• "I do try"
• "I always wanna tell the truth"
• "when I can, I tell the truth"
• "I always like to be truthful"

Such hedging, whether in written or verbal form, are profound statement analysis tells indicative of deception.

In addition, Donald Trump immediately proceeds with the premise that Jonathan Karl also lies when he says, "I think you try too. You say things about me that are not - necessarily correct". This is a manipulative method known as Forced Teaming (de Becker). It's as if to say, "We're in this together Jon - you and me" - and - You lie too Jonathan, everybody lies, but we all try not to".

Now flashback to an earlier portion of this interview. Beginning as Trump says (continuing at 2:31), "... you have caravans coming up that, look a lot larger than it's reported, actually, I mean I'm pretty good at - estimating crowd size - and I will tell you - they look a lot bigger than people would think ..."

From 2:31 to 2:39 Trump displays a combination of a Suppressed Smile along with what is known as a Lip Curl. Please watch the above video - as any still image does not capture the dynamic nature of this nonverbal behavior.

In this context, a suppressed smile is what is a nonverbal phenomenon termed as Duping Delight (Ekman) - which is a form of body language 'leaking' - wherein the person displaying it, is taking true joy in THEIR belief that they're successfully deceiving people. It's crucial to emphasize here that you don't have to agree at all with the ethics of their lying or their motive. Moreover, they may not be fooling anyone at all - but THEY believe they are doing so.

A lip curl (note the outward curl of Trump's upper left lip) signals Hubris, Braggadocio, and Bravado. Trump tends to have a slight lisp when he displays his lip curls (both in this example and on other occasions). This is best exemplified as he says the word "size" during 2:37.

Notice too, that during 2:36 - 2:39, Trump's shoulders elevate slightly as he puffs up his chest (and perhaps elevates a bit on his toes). While not a required component of either a lip curl or duping delight, these additional dynamics add to this particular body language sentence - a nonverbal grouping called a cluster. These extra components serve as amplifiers - of both the joy he has in the act of deceiving - as well as his hubris, braggadocio, and bravado.

SUMMARY: During this interview, Donald Trump is looking down to his right the vast majority of the time - the direction of gaze to which most people look during the diminished eye contact of deception. Trump also demonstrates classic nonverbal tells indicating he takes pleasure and hubris in the belief he's successfully perpetrating his lies.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4355: Comparing Donald Trump and the Tree of Life Synagogue to Ronald Reagan and the Challenger Disaster 

Body Language Analysis No. 4353: The Murder of Jamal Khashoggi and Trump's Defense of Saudi Arabia 

Body Language Analysis No. 4351: Donald Trump Stops Anthony Kennedy in His Tracks 

Body Language Analysis No. 4349: Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford - Part III

Body Language Analysis No. 4332: Richard Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev, and The Kitchen Debate

Body Language Analysis No. 4321: Donald Trump and The Queen

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

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

Body Language Analysis No. 4282: When Public Displays of Affection are More Frequent than those in Private