In the everyday world, it is common for people to be experiencing two (sometimes competing) emotions simultaneously. This phenomenon is known as emotional dissonance. Yesterday, Tom Cruise appeared on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to promote his new movie "Oblivion". In the above video Cruise provides a great example of emotional dissonance. Near the end of this clip, when Fallon reveals a "raw egg challenge" for Cruise - Katie Holmes' ex shows us three rapidly overlapping nonverbal displays. These are highlighted in the images below:
Beginning at 5:28,
just after Jimmy says, "... raw egg ..." Tom's jaw juts out. This is a strong and reliable signal of anger. We also can see an inward lip roll (ILR). The inward lip roll is one body language signal our subconscious reveals when it is trying to prevent the outward display of emotions. While the ILR is usually associated with negative emotions, it is also often seen when a smile and/or laughter is being suppressed.
A few seconds later, we see Cruise's Jaw still jutting out - with the inward lip roll (ILR) from a front/oblique view. Cruise is experiencing two emotions during the moment of this image. While his jaw jut continues to display anger, he is also displaying a sincere, but suppressed smile. Search your memory you probably can recall being angry and laughing at the same time. The most telling signal of Cruise's sincere smile is his partially closed eyes with a dynamic lower lid, concave-up furrow - which is ALWAYS required if the smile is sincere. The actor's forehead is also relaxed - also an absolute during a true smile. Tom's mouth however is not open - consistent with his jaw jut & inward lip roll; however if you look at his cheek muscles, they are bunched up (contracted) - which contributes to and coexists with the eyelid changes of a sincere smile.
Here, the jaw jut is waning as is the inward lip roll - although they both can still be seen. Cruise's suppressed mile is still very evident as well. This image is captured during a prolonged lid closure and is one body language signal of emotional processing. This is a sign that although the intellect understands - the emotional brain is still playing catch-up and trying to grasp the situation.
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