"UNDERSTANDING HUMAN BEHAVIOR" On a FORENSIC level, Handwriting Analysis is used for, Assisting Criminologists & Law Enforcement agents in behavioral profiling involving crimes of violence.
Nonverbal Communication Part one (1)
Special interest Article;
Anthony J. Iantosca, BCFE

Nonverbal Communication
Part one (1) 

I posted an article on nonverbal communications and the "Primacy of Reactions" on my Academy page and I will post that article again here below. What makes this statement an accurate statement? I will explain the empirical research behind nonverbal communications (body language) explaining what is fact and what is fiction. I hope these articles will give you a better understanding of nonverbal communications and the vital role it plays in understanding human behavior. 
Body language / non verbal communication is a very accurate diagnostic tool when you understand how the human brain deals with a positive, stressful or threatening situation.  The old terminology for describing the human brain was left brain / right brain.  In 1952, a scientist named Paul MacLean began to speak of the human brain as a "triune brain" consisting of three brains working together as a command and control center. They are:

Reptilian (stem) brain
Mammalian (limbic) brain
Neo Cortex (human) brain

The "Limbic" mammalian brain plays the largest role in the expression of nonverbal behavior. This part of the brain acts like a radar system that is on seven days a week. When the limbic brain experiences a positive, negative or threatening situation it leaks this information in the form of body language tells/cues congruent with those feelings, positive & negative. These body language cues are expressed instantaneously and without thought. These expressions manifest physically in our faces, our eyes, forehead, mouth, neck, etc. Our torso, arms, hands, fingers, etc. Also in our feet and legs.

The old and outdated terminology still used to this day was called the "fight or flight" response this is half right and somewhat backwards. The brain's response to any threatening situation takes three forms, the FREEZE, FLIGHT, FIGHT response.  When one response is found to be inadequate, the limbic system will move quickly to the next response, until the system feels the threat has passed. The body language "tells/cues" that follow will tell us which response the limbic system has chosen to defend itself, and has returned the body back into a safe and secure frame of mind. The nonverbal behaviors that follow will help us to understand a person's thoughts, feelings, and intentions. The limbic system / brain is called our true brain. Why? it is the part of our brain that reacts to the world around us reflexively and instantaneously, in real time without thought  and is the most accurate when detecting body language tells/cues.  These limbic survival responses go back to our ancestry as a human species. These responses are hardwired into our nervous system, making them difficult to disguise or eliminate.  

The "Neo-cortex" or human brain is our thinking, creative brain. The neo-cortex is analytical. It thinks before it acts or speaks. It is capable of deception and it can lie, and it lies often.

 Example: Your slightly over weight friend asks you, "how do you like my new bright yellow dress? You answer, "gee look's great on you." In reality, you wanted to say something very different. Your analytical brain came up with a quick "Pro- Social" white lie, so you do not hurt your friend's feelings. The micro eye blocking expression flashed on your face, just before you opened your mouth expressing your true feelings of, "oh my God what the hell is she wearing ! "

True emotions are always expressed in body language cues before words and actions. ( Navarro & Scahafer, 2003,22-24 )

In the 1800's Darwin stated that there were six emotions that were universal to all cultures. They are:


In 1980 Dr. Paul Ekman, Ph.D added,


These emotions are expressed in all humans from the day they are born. Dr. Ekman studied the forty facial muscles and their movement when emotions were felt and expressed. He stated humans can express over ten thousand (10,000) different expressions. Most we will never see. In a typical conversation we will see less than one hundred (100). Only a third will be relevant to emotion. These expressions are flashed in 1/25 of a second called, a micro expression. These expressions will reveal themselves prior to a more contrived expression.  When a micro expression is detected, it does not tell you what the person is being deceptive about.
It only tells us that their facial expressions, words and body language non verbal tells/cues lack "synchrony."

Dr. Ekman's work in developing F.A.C.S., Facial- Action- Coding System, is a highly accurate diagnostic tool in helping profiler's and law enforcement personnel in detecting micro expressions in a personality when they are put or are in a stressful situation. These emotions or expressions should not be in variance with the picture being presented to you, or before the fake emotion, the mask the personality wants you to believe they are feeling, is shown. All cues must be taken in the context of the situation you are in.

The next time someone says to you that nonverbal behavior does not have meaning or is not reliable, the U.S. Supreme Court decision (Terry v. Ohio, 1968, 392 U.S. 1) acknowledged that nonverbal behaviors presage criminality if those behaviors are observed and decoded properly. This landmark decision was based on the quick thinking of a thirty nine year old Detective, Martin McFadden. In 1963, he watched the nonverbal behavior of two men who he believed were about to rob a store. When Officer McFadden moved in and patted the two men down he found a concealed hand gun. (Terry v. Ohio, 1968, 392 U.S. 1) provided a clear demonstration of the relationship between our thoughts, intentions, and nonverbal behaviors. (Navarro & Scahafer, 2003, 22-24)


Non Verbal Communication

Primacy of Reactions
 I have read many articles over the past few weeks on detecting deception. The body language (tells) expressions that will make you a human lie detector. I can tell you point blank that most of these so called experts are spinning the same old misconceptions and none researched findings on how to detect deception via body language (tells) and expressions. Detecting deception is very difficult even for the professionals who have trained in and have years experience in the discipline.  So before you look at a persons body language (tell) and think this person is lying based on that faulty information take time to think and analyze the context of the situation you are in. Look for changes to their base line behavior when you are talking and asking sensitive questions. You want to see clusters of behaviors (tells) that will have you go back and ask additional questions that flagged you during that part of the interview. I would hate to have you label someone a liar because you saw him/her rub their nose or looked away. I will post articles and answer any questions you may have over the next few weeks on deception detection.  
True emotions are always expressed before words and actions. When words or actions are expressed before emotions this is an indication that the personality is, for what ever the reason being, is trying to deceive you into believing that what you are seeing or hearing is a true and accurate expression of their emotions. This is not the case.
The limbic brain is our honest brain when it comes to non verbal communication. The limbic brain reacts to both positive and negative stimuli in real time and without thought. That is why it is called the "honest brain."  The first emotion/expression flashed on a persons face or expressed in other parts of the body, hands, arms, legs, feet in response to a visual or verbal stimuli is their true thoughts and feelings. Many times these non verbal expressions are flashed on a persons face in one twenty fifth of a second called a micro expression. These micro expressions are very hard to detect without training. Longer expressions that last two - four seconds are called a macro expressions these are very obvious non verbal (tells) and are meant to be obvious.  Some personalities are very good at masking their facial expressions and express very little. When these personalities are concentrating on masking their facial expressions they forget the other parts of their body that will leak their true thoughts, feelings and intensions.
It is very important to take all non verbal expressions (tells)  in the context of the situation you are in.
When you are unsure of an expression look at the situation you are in, is the personality displaying comfort or are they displaying discomfort in your interaction. Non verbal communication is very binary. All personalities unless they have a medical issue of some sort, will display either comfort or discomfort displays and will pacify themselves accordingly.
It is always important to acquire a base line of the personality you are interacting with. How do they act when in a relaxed or in a state of comfort. Then we would watch for a change in their behavior. The limbic brain will ask to be pacified when in discomfort, you will see a cluster of behaviors, such as rubbing the hands, neck, face, leg, hair, etc. In response to the negative stimuli. This does not mean the person is lying, only the question, conversation or action is causing them discomfort in some way. The limbic brain will respond very quickly and without thinking about it.   When the limbic brain is in comfort you may also see the same cluster of behaviors, only  these pacifying behaviors are in response to a positive stimuli and these pacifying behaviors will heighten the pleasurable experience.
It is very important to remember that the "Primacy of Reactions" are always the most accurate when trying to decode what the personality is thinking, feeling and intending.   
 Part two (2) tomorrow




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