Monday, March 25, 2019

Body Language Analysis No. 4376: Jacinda Ardern and Donald Trump - a Study in Contrasts - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

This photo of Jacinda Ardern was taken in the immediate aftermath of the 15 March 2019 mass shooting at two Mosques in Christchurch. Since the tragedy, there have been thousands of images of the New Zealand Prime minister displaying this same classic expression of empathy-grief:

• Elevated Central Forehead Contraction
• Inner (medial) Eyebrows Upturned
• Upper Eyelids Slightly Closed
• Nostrils Slightly Flared
• Slight Lip Protrusion
• Down-turned Mouth Corners

Any person feeling sincere empathy will, to some degree, display this expression.

This image of Ronald Reagan was taken during his 28 January 1986 address to the nation regarding the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. Note Reagan's face shares all the above-described components of Prime Minister Ardern's expression.

In contrast, this video of President Trump was recorded just a few hours after the Christchurch mass shooting. What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis.

JOURNALIST (beginning at 25:28): Do you see today - do you see today the White Nationalists as a rising threat around the World?

DONALD TRUMP: I don't really - I think it's a - ah small group of people that have very, very serious problems I guess. If you look at what happened in New Zealand - perhaps that's a case - I don't know enough about it yet - they're just learning about the person - and the people involved. Ah, but it's certainly a terrible thing, a terrible thing. Yes? 

Just after the journalist says, "White Nationalists" - and as he says, "rising threat around the" the President Nods his head in an Up-and-Down (two cycles) in the Affirmative.

Immediately afterward, he shakes his head side-to-side in a denial illustrator (one cycle) as he says, "I don't really".

He also looks away from the journalist as he answers - with an Exaggerated Mouth Movement as he says, "really". Moreover, his verbal emphasis on the word "really" rather than the word "don't" is crucial. The world "really", in this context, is a qualifier. Its use here, as well the accompanying nonverbal and vocal qualities - both connote Trump's hedging, watered-down, and non-definitive answer.

Notice also, Trump's other verbal hedges, "small group of people", "I guess", "perhaps", "I don't know enough about it," "yet", "they're just learning".

A few seconds later, as he says, "I guess", Trump Shrugs his Shoulders, here signifying:

• I don't know
• I don't care
• What does it matter?
• What could I do about it?

When he calls on another journalist - as the President is saying, "Yes?" - he displays what is known as a Lip Curl. A lip curl projects the hyper-alpha emotions of:

• Hubris
• False Bravado
• Hyperbole
• Braggadocio
• Sarcasm

In this context, a lip curl display is chilling - for the emotions displayed in this moment are completely opposite that of a healthy response. He's not even projecting neutral emotions here - he's enjoying a moment of swagger. 

It's also of profound importance to note, that at no time during this Oval Office video, did Donald Trump display a facial expression indicative of empathy or grief for the victims or the families of the Christchurch mass shooting (as Jacinda Ardern continues to exhibit - and as Ronald Reagan did regarding the Challenger disaster).

SUMMARY: President Trump's nonverbal behavior contradict his words. He's devoid of both empathy and grief - not only for the victims and family members of the recent mass shooting in New Zealand - but, astoundingly, he's never displayed either emotion since he announced his candidacy in June of 2015.

In addition, Donald Trump's nonverbal behavior indicates he's fully aware of the rise of White Nationalism - and his link to it - as a motivation for some terrorist attacks.

Grieving is absolutely necessary for healing. Prime Minister Ardern's grieving (as did Ronald Reagan's) gives a momentary and historical personification for our collective grieving. And it's in these moments when our grief is shared that perhaps we're most human.

Empathy, by definition, is never conveyed by words alone. Empathy must be felt and must be displayed. An absence of empathy in a leader creates a vacuum - and causes a down-regulation of empathy, en masse.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4375: Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Security Clearances

Body Language Analysis No. 4374: Nancy Pelosi's Clap-Back to Donald Trump during the 2019 SOTU

Body Language Analysis No. 4373: Matthew Whitaker's Press Conference regarding Robert Mueller's Investigation

Body Language Analysis No. 4371: "Mr. President ... have you ever worked for Russia? Yes or no?"

Body Language Analysis No. 4370: Donald Trump, Fist-Pumping, and Vladimir Putin at 2017 G20

Body Language Analysis No. 4339: Pre-Confession Interview of Murderer, Chris Watts

Body Language Analysis No. 4360: GE's CEO Larry Culp's CNBC Interview and Subsequent Stock Sell-off

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

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