Monday, October 29, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2170:
The San Francisco Giants, Surprise,
Bird Poop and Body Language

If you're a Detroit Tiger fan, this video may not be quite as funny - yet it does provide a very instructive nonverbal lesson. Reporters Bethany Crouch and Paul Robins were outside Candlestick Park filming a story on the (then upcoming) World Series (which the Giants swept), when a bird poops on Robins' head, glasses and shoulders. At the 0:23 mark, Ms. Crouch displays a classic facial expression of surprise. The most important two key components visible here are the rapid and vertically elongated, oval and open mouth - as well as the widely opened eyelids. You may have to pause this video several times to freeze it at the optimum moment - for true and sincere surprise is the most evanescent of all body language-facial expressions. Here it lasts less than a second. If what look to you like surprise lasts longer than two seconds - there is either a feigned component present (very common), the entire display is false - or there is significant psychological shock - e.g. witnessing a car accident or traumatic event.

Note also the pulling backwards (retraction) of Bethany's torso - which is also a very natural and sincere response in surprise.

Another fascinating quality of the emotion of surprise is that it's almost always rapidly replaced by a second emotion such as fear, anger, sadness ... and here joy-laughter. If there is an absence of another emotion very shortly a "surprise" - this is yet another nonverbal signal of insincerity.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1914: Sincere Surprise - Often Feigned & Difficult to Capture - Spain Beats Portugal in Euro 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2159: Tom Hanks drops the F-bomb on GMA - Body Language of Fear, Surprise, MAPs and a Bitter Smile

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 212: Eyes White and Wide - Three Body Language Examples with Two Different Emotional Causes

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1261: IMF Director Christine Lagarde - True Surprise - Rarely Captured

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 387: Missy Franklin's Surprise and Disbelief