In Latin America, it's an unmistakable come-on. In much of Asia, it's offensive. In a vice-presidential debate, the meaning of a wink is sparking plenty of controversy, writes Faye Fiore in the Los Angeles Times. Sarah Palin winks more often than any politician experts can remember, and it has "left some voters smitten, some confused and others nauseated," Fiore writes.
For a wink to be persuasive, it needs a receptive source, Fiore cautions. Experts say that ambiguous gestures, especially on TV, make an audience assess the source more closely—often with negative results. A wink can change the meaning of a sentence, but the effect is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. "It's a Rorschach test," said an expert on political psychology said. "People see in it what they want."