Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2031:
Tina Fey arriving at Alec Baldwin's Wedding,
Fear-Empathy with a (partial) Sincere Smile -
Emotional Dissonance

The hilarious, beautiful and talented Tina Fey arrives at her 30 Rock co-star, Alec Baldwin's wedding in the above image. Tina is wearing a great and relatively rarely photographed expression. Ms. Fey's eyes have some of the elements of a true (Duchenne) smile - with well-defined concave-up furrows in her lower eyelids indicating a (partial) contraction of the orbicularis oculi (pars orbitalis) muscles. It is a partial contraction, because the upper lids are not partially closed as well (indeed on her right, her lid is opened wider than a resting state). This probably (and at least partially) has to do with the relatively high adrenaline status we all have when we're being photographed/videoed/televised (even though she's very experienced in such scenarios). Our eyelids open wider when the emotion of fear is present. This body language phenomenon is more pronounced in the upper lids. It is also very possible that a significant portion of this fear is for Alec. She is feeling fear for him. Alec married his yoga instructor, Hilaria Thomas who is 28 while Baldwin is 54.

The fear component is further nonverbally expressed by Ms. Fey's mouth (with the right side being more pronounced) - pulling primarily laterally with her lips stretched thinner. The frontal aspect of her chin is also dynamically wrinkled/dimpled giving appearance that the lower lid is protruding. This chin dimpling along with subtle tension of her neck muscles are also consistent with mild fear. Thus, this variety of "fear" is, of course, not the same as that of threatened bodily harm or another extreme event. But it is a form of fear none the less. It's an empathy-fear mixed with a sincere smile. This is a great example of emotional dissonance - a sincere expression of two opposite and competing emotional tones.

See also:

Analysis # 353: Brad Pitt's Smiling Eyes - Sincere and Insincere Smiles

Analysis #1010: Rashida Jones - What Makes the Twinkle in Her Eye

Analysis # 1003: Obama's Dropped Jaw Smile

Analysis # 1106: Subtle Fear Display of al-Assad

Analysis # 702: Mouth of Fear, Trying to Smile and Forehead of Pain of Blake Lively

Analysis # 1696: George Zimmerman's Testimony - Fear, Incredulity, Regret & Contempt

Analysis # 1927: Italy's Fans watching Euro 2012 Final - Expressions of Fear