Saturday, February 9, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2297:
Rooney Mara on Conan O'Brien
Common Body Language Tell
Fear Apology Query Expression-Cluster

Lots of excellent nonverbals during Rooney Mara's recent appearance on "Conan". She was promoting her latest film - "Side Effects" (Steven Soderbergh) but she went into some detail about the extent to which she got into character for her role as Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".

While most one-sided "smiles" are insincere or misidentified contempt, here Ms. Mara displays a suppressed unilateral sincere smile (during 0:14 - 0:16). We know it's not feigned because her lower eyelids have the dynamic concave-up furrow - which is a necessary component of all sincere smiles. Her cheek muscles are contracted and elevated and contribute to this classic lower lid configuration. Although it is not possible to see in an image and very difficult to see in the video, the skin between Rooney's eyebrows and upper eyelid also momentarily contracts in the moment of a true (Duchenne) smile

Here we see two components of a common body language cluster - that of the "Fear Apology Query Expression-Cluster" (at 0:26). The Query component does not always accompany the other two and often follows it (as shown below). Note how Ms. Mara's teeth are slightly clenched with the lower lip pulled out and down as she speaks. The neck muscles (platysma) also tighten slightly - which because it is dynamic, can be seen much better in the video above. Along with her eyebrow elevation, all of these nonverbals are characteristic of a fear-apology cluster. She's not in any extreme fear of course, but in a type of social fear when we're in an uncomfortable scenario where something awkward has to be explained.

This image captures Ms. Mara's expression a moment after the above fear-apology nonverbal (0:28). In this photo, along with her fear-apology, she displays the additional component of "query". Her inner (medial) eyebrows contract downwards as she asks a sincere question to Conan regaurding a merkin. When a rhetorical question is asked, the inner eyebrows, and often both entire eyebrows, will elevate.

Here (at 0:33) Rooney blushes as she laughs and covers up her mouth and nose - as well as her kick, inward contraction of the arms (arms held close to body) and forward lean (all in video) are all extremely common body language signals accompanying embarrassment.

Lots of additional great nonverbal communication examples in this video. How many can you spot?

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1876:  Noomi Rapace, Anxiety & False Mastication

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2122:  Eyes White and Wide -  Three Body Language Examples with  Two Different Emotional Causes

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2265:  Ryan Gosling pulls a woman from audience on Conan -  His Classic Body Language Tell

Body Language Secret # 702:  Blake Lively's Mouth of Fear,  trying to Smile and  Forehead of Pain

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

Negotiation Secret # 329: Angela Merkel's Neck of Fear