Sunday, April 30, 2023

Body Language Analysis №4689: Ron DeSantis' Faux Pas and Head Wobbles in Japan - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (Video, Photos, and Analysis)

What follows is a paralanguage, body language, and statement analysis of a portion (0:43–0:52) of the above video of Ron DeSantis’ response to a crucial question asked to him recently in Japan.

*The corresponding descriptions appear below each of the following images.*

After meeting with Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida on 24 April 2023 in Tokyo, Ron DeSantis was asked, “Governor, polls show you falling behind ah, T, Trump. Any thoughts on that?

DeSantis immediately looks away from the reporter with his eyes (with his head is still oriented in their direction) as soon as he hears the words, “falling behind” (0:44).

DeSantis then tilts his head/neck backward…

…followed immediately by a hard-swallow (his Adam’s Apple moves up just before he speaks) as he hears the word, “Trump” (0:45).

DeSantis does not have a prominent ‘Adam’s Apple’ (Laryngeal Prominence/Thyroid Cartilage) — so this is somewhat difficult to see on him.

Hard swallows are commonly displayed during moments of anxiety as this helps to stimulate saliva production (in an effort to alleviate the dry mouth of nervousness).

We can also see DeSantis fixate his gaze in the distance (probably on the far wall, above the faces of the audience) with his head/neck rotated more towards his center (relative to his torso).

People will very often refixate their gaze upon a distant/mid-distant inanimate object in order to suppress strong emotions (and the corresponding emotional displays). It’s helpful to think of this micro-behavior as a method of emotional re-centering.

Did you see the expression of Contempt on DeSantis’ face?

Note the prominence of his left nasolabial fold (the natural furrow all humans have that runs diagonally between the lateral aspect of the corner of each mouth to the sides of the nose).

There’s also a subtle tightening of the region above his left upper lip as well as mild flaring of his left nostril — all of these findings clustered are indicative of Contempt.

DeSantis then looks straight (relative to his torso and face) — again in the mid-distance again as he begins a high-frequency, low-amplitude lateral wobbling of his head/neck (note the tightening of his neck muscles). This is a classic Self-Righteous Head Wiggle (AKA a High-Confidence Head Wiggle).

We then hear two successive lip-smacks (the second of which was made by DeSantis as he prepares to answer). Lip smacking is also a sign of high confidence (0:46).

Unfortunately, the video then is edited (between 0:46 and 0:47) as the view switches to a close-up. In this brief interim (and immediately before his answer) we missed crucial nonverbal behavior tells.

After the camera goes to a close-up view, we can see DeSantis continuing and dramatically amplifying his self-Righteous Head Wiggle as says, “I’m not, I’m not a candidate so we’ll see if ah-, if and when that changes.”

The movement of Self-Righteous Head Wiggles are usually fairly rapid (high frequency) and of varying amplitude. Sometimes, it’s extremely short in duration (almost a microexpression) and at other times it lasts longer.

Because this is a dynamic display, please view the video, as the still images do not capture the motion and nuance of this nonverbal behavior.

The Self-Righteous Head Wiggle (SRHW) is typically displayed by individuals who are of relatively high-alpha personalities — but during moments of extra-high confidence (or arrogance) and when they’re expressing particularly strong opinions.

The SRHW can be thought of as a form of nonverbal swagger and often nonverbal arrogance/high confidence. Additionally, the SRHW will sometimes have a superimposed forward head and/or torso movement component when Arrogance and/or Condescension are simultaneous.

The first moment after the camera switches (0:47), DeSantis’ expression is extremely hyperbolic. It’s also profoundly telling that he first dramatizes his face — and holds this expression briefly before speaking.

This exaggerated facial expression of DeSantis actually lasted longer than we see in this video — for it was artificially truncated by the video edit.

Did you notice the sweat on DeSantis’ face, particularly above his upper lip?

Did you notice DeSantis’ mouth asymmetry?

Asymmetrical mouth configuration whilst speaking is an indication of deception, melodrama, braggadocio, and feigned machismo (commonly overlapping behaviors).

Post-match/game interviews of winning strikers, quarterbacks, point guards, etc. — (and politicians) are common scenarios to witness asymmetrical mouth configurations during speaking.

Intriguingly, many actors unknowingly adopt asymmetrical mouth displays while acting, for acting is a special form of lying — lying with consent of the audience.

DeSantis also raises up quickly TWICE on his toes — together with some hand/arm movement this gives the false appearance of a shoulder shrug (please watch the video as these are quick and impossible to discern with simple image capture).

We cannot see his toe-raising directly, as we’re only able to see the upper 20% of his body, but we can infer this based on the relative movements of his chest, shoulders, upper arms, neck, and head.

Elevating up on one’s toes is an indication of an adrenaline surge. This up-on-toe elevation is sometimes a manifestation of excitement and joy — but it’s also commonly seen accompanying anxiety and fear.

Another nonverbal cluster/combination that should jump out at you is Ron DeSantis’ eyes and forehead during his answer. Note while his eyelids are partially closed (versus his resting baseline) the entire width of his forehead is simultaneously contracted.

Thus the upper eyelid muscles are moving in opposite directions (down) versus the immediately adjacent forehead muscles (up). This configuration is highly consistent with deception and/or withheld information (a lie of omission).

Bizarrely, with the second portion of his answer, as he says, “…if ah-, if and when that changes”, DeSantis rotates most of his face, his torso, hips, and his left foot and to a lesser extent, his right foot to his left 90º.

This near full body turn-away and lack of eye contact are secondary manifestations of DeSantis’ extreme emotional discomfort with his lagging poll numbers and his chances for a possible, but of late, significantly diminished odds for a 2024 presidential candidacy.

This is extreme avoidance behavior — and given the nature of this question and his chosen answer, it’s a flashing red light with a blaring siren. It’s also another attempt of DeSantis trying to recenter and suppress his strong emotions.

Notice also, Ron DeSantis’ stuttering. DeSantis has no history of stuttering — so his repetition of “I’m not, I’m not” (“a candidate”) is profoundly telling. DeSantis goes on to say, “… if ah-, if and when that changes”.

Together with his look-away/turn-away these two rapidly stuttered, “I’m not”s — then two “if”s — are glaring alarm bells.

From a body language and statement analysis perspective, DeSantis’ answer screams.

SUMMARY: Based on his body language, paralanguage, and statement analysis of this short but crucial video segment, Ron DeSantis feels strong contempt toward Don Trump and has extreme anxiety about running against the former president.

Ron DeSantis is wavering. While his mind is not yet made-up, he’s strongly considering not entering the 2024 Presidential race.

I’m starting something new — Group Zoom sessions teaching Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. We’ll be meeting the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of each month (90 minutes/session for 1 year, 36 hours total). All those interested, please email me at


This post and other accompanying it, serve as a reference source for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the author. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc., are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts.