Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Body Language Analysis №4680: TikTok CEO, Shou Chew's testimony before Congress - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

On 24 March 2023, TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew testified before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. A portion of that testimony is included in the above video (0:30 through 1:29 & 1:50 through 2:36).

What follows is a Body Language, paralanguage, and statement analysis of a portion of this segment.

(All of the following descriptions appear below the corresponding images)

Note that from 1:07 though 1:14, Mr. Chew says, “The potential security, privacy, content manipulation concerns raised about TikTok, are really not unique to us” — he displays a morphing gesture (illustrator) which began with a closed palm-up, loosely-gripped configuration with the tip of his thumb drawn together touching/in close proximity to the other digits of his left hand… (1:08).

… and it progressed to a more closed, palm-up fist (increased hostility, defensiveness, and indignant emotional tone) as Mr. Chew speaks about privacy and content manipulation.

His statement “are really not unique to us” is an example of the manipulative technique of ‘Whataboutism’. 

Mr. Chew gestures with a variation of what is sometimes called a ‘Political Point’ with his left hand (and arm) from 1:14 to 1:17, as he says, “Ownership is not at the core of addressing these concerns.”

The Political Point is a gesture that’s relatively rare outside of individuals who are not in politics, some attorneys, public speakers, and corporate leadership/corporate spokespeople.

While the Political Point is an alpha-beta hybrid, it leans strongly to the alpha end of the spectrum. The Political Point is used in lieu of (and should be thought of as a more clandestine form of) index finger (forefinger) pointing.

The Political Point and its variations are dominant signals and are used by people in closed emotional states. These particular gestures are used by those who are not interested in listening, but who are attempting with concerted effort to advance their agenda.

From 1:17 to 1:21, Chew says, “We will firewall-protect the US data from unwanted foreign access” — as he once again gestures with his left arm/hand.

This time he uses a variation of a hand-chop. This is common in those trying too hard to appear self-righteous — and when a hand-chop is displayed in the context of trying to defend against accusations (or lies) — with high-probability, it signals their guilt.

Note how Chew’s elbow is progressively moving further out (more lateral), away from his torso as he says this (enhancing his efforts at defensiveness — but signaling guilt and feigned self-righteousness).

(Although it’s not seen in this particular example, this hand-chop with lying/guilt correlation is further amplified if the additional component of an index finger point is simultaneously displayed)

Chew states, “TikTok will remain a place for free expression and will *not* be manipulated by *any* government”, as he continues to gesture with his left arm/hand (back to a ‘Political Point’ configuration). 

In all four of these examples previously shown, Shou Chew gestures with his LEFT hand. However, earlier in the video (0:37 to 0:45), we can see that Chew is right-handed (shown here writing with a pen in his right hand).

If Chew had been sincere (truthful) in the four statements accompanying these four above-noted gestures, he would have used his dominant, right hand — not his left.

This hand-dominance/sincerity correlation is particularly true in a witness in sworn testimony (especially on such a worldwide stage), an interrogation, and when one is being accused of lying or illegal/unethical acts.

Now let’s go back further in the video. Beginning at 0:53, Mr. Chew says, “ByteDance is not owned or controlled by the Chinese government. It’s a private company. Sixty percent of the company is owned by global institutional investors. Twenty percent is owned by the founder — and twenty percent is owned by employees around the world.”

An instant before he says, “Sixty” (0:59) and again as he says the word — Chew displays two successive Contempt displays. The first is subtle, but crucial. This is an example of a microexpression as it is extremely short in duration.

The second Contempt display is more noticeable (higher in amplitude and longer in duration but still very short). Please watch the video — and use the slow motion feature, as still images do not capture the dynamics of these behaviors.

Just before he says, “the founder” (“twenty percent is owned by the founder”), Chew suppresses a smile (1:05).

Then just after he says, “the founder” (1:05), Chew displays a Loose Tongue Jut. A Loose Tongue Jut indicates the thought-emotion of “I’ve been (or about to be) caught”, “I’ve been bad”, or “I’ve just done (or about to do) something stupid”.

Although not a necessary component of a Loose Tongue Jut, Chew’s simultaneous eyelid closure serves to amplify its thought-emotions.

As he is saying, “…and twenty percent is owned by employees around the world”, Chew shakes his head in a side-to-side “no” illustrator (1:05–1:07). Please watch the video as it’s impossible to show this behavior with a still image.

As Chew says, “not” (“The potential security, privacy, content manipulation concerns raised about TikTok, are really not unique to us”) he displays an amalgam of both Disgust and Contempt (1:13).

Simultaneous with this (and beginning just prior to it), Chew also displayed a subtle shoulder shrug. Shoulder shrugs indicate the thought emotion of “What could I do”, “What do I care?”, “What does it matter?”, “What could I do about it?”

As Mr. Chew says, “not” (1:25) …

…as well as he says, “any” (1:26) (“TikTok will remain a place for free expression and will *not* be manipulated by *any* government”). Chew displays particularly exaggerated facial expressions. The expression immediately above is a form of a Duping Delight. A duping delight is a smile out of context — signaling the person’s joy-happiness in their belief that they have been successful in perpetrating deception.

This last statement of Chew’s, with its volume and other accompanying vocal qualities, highlighted with these last two highlighted facial expressions, in this context, stand on their own as particularly arrogant, self-righteous, challenging, and deceptive.

SUMMARY: Based on his body language, paralanguage, and statement analysis, CEO Shou Chew was lying during the above noted segment of his testimony before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee last week.

Shou Chew also displayed hostility, defensiveness, indignance, contempt, disgust, and arrogance directed toward members of Congress. hostility, defensiveness, and indignant.

All those interested in learning #BodyLanguage — and using it to improve your professional and personal life, please email me (, esp. attorneys, judges, actors, directors, crisis management, C-level executives, sales, teachers, parents, health care professionals…