Deception Detection In Non Verbals, Linguistics And Data.

Judging Competence + Success From A Face.

Previous studies have shown that personality traits such as competence and trustworthiness can be reliably judged from a face (Hess, Adams, & Kleck, 2005). Similar studies showed a 70% correlation to predicting election results in the U.S based on looking at photo's and scoring the same traits.

However, can you tell which CEO's are most successful from their face?


Undergraduates were asked to judge CEO's likability and competence based on a series of photo's in a study by Nicholas Rule and Nalini Ambadi:

It turns out that leaders that scored the highest also ran the most successful companies. Nicholas Rule says, "These findings suggest that naive judgments may provide more accurate assessments of individuals than well-informed judgments can."

First impressions are critical, because we do judge a book by it's cover. Which brings me to Bill Shortens demeanor when interviewed on TV.

I have noticed in the last week that Shorten appears to be going into "sad mode" as he begins to speak. This morning while being interviewed on channel 9 with one day to the election, Bill Shorten's face visibly changed at the moment he began to speak. His eyebrows over the nose went went together and up, his top eyelids dropped slightly, in a classic sad expression.

Whether this is to invoke underdog sympathy, or portray a large burden being placed on his shoulders, it appears to be a conscious attempt because he visibly changes as he begins the interview.

The world's pioneer and authority on facial recognition, Dr. Paul Ekman in his book Emotions Revealed says,

"The eyebrows are very important, highly reliable signs of sadness."
And when talking about actors he says, "It makes them seem more empathetic, warm and kind, but that may not be a true reflection of what they are feeling."

I wanted to test whether Bill Shorten is using this as part of his persona. I downloaded all his speeches for the month of June as well as Malcolm Turnbull to use as a comparison.

I ran the speeches through the psychological text analysis tool LIWC from James Pennebaker from the University of Texas to categorise dozens and dozens of words related to sadness from all the speeches.

Compared to Turnbull, Shorten uses more sad language, using more words like lose, missing, tragic, deprived.

This persona may be part of the political spin developed by Shorten and the Labor campaign to invoke empathy, but portraying trustworthiness and competence has been shown to be a better combination.

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