Sen. Barack Obama

Hands Offer Insight into Political Minds

May 19, 2008 09:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
When it comes to the body politic, some experts feel that hands, not eyes, reveal the inner workings of the mind.

30-Second Summary

Hands, not eyes, are the windows to the soul, according to a BBC article. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for example, displays his stressed disposition with ink-stained fingers and nails bitten to shreds.

In 2006, U.K. newspaper The Guardian claimed Brown’s nail-biting was a focusing mechanism. “When all your attention is concentrated on the feeling (of fidgeting), there is no room for anything else in the mind,” said the article.

The speculation over Brown’s fingernails indicates the cruciality of non-verbal communication in politics, and demonstrates the suffocating media attention bestowed on candidates.

For example, after Barack Obama gave a speech in North Carolina, during which he raised his middle finger to scratch his cheek, the gesture was interpreted as a negative swipe at opponent Hilary Clinton, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The corporate world is not immune to such speculation, either.

Even simple gestures, such as putting hands in pockets, can affect the way a speaker is perceived. An article in Business Week said the intensity and complexity of hand gestures often illustrates a person’s thought process.

A famous example occurred in 2001, when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was teased by the media after meeting with President Bush at Camp David for anxiously shoving his hands in his pockets to “appear at ease with Bush,” according to The Guardian.

Headline Links: Gesture politics

Background: Gordon’s bad habit

Related Topics: It’s all about image


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