Monday, May 27, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2410:
Grant Acord, Oregon Student Suspect in School Bomb Plot -
Body Language Warning Signals

Another haunting yearbook picture of yet another troubled young man. This photo of Grant Acord demonstrates nonverbal signals of significant anger with components of rage. He was arrested at his mother's home in Albany, Oregon on 24 May 2013 for "aggravated attempted murder and six counts each of manufacturing a destructive device, possession of a destructive device and possession of a weapon with intent to use it against another person". He will be charged as an adult. Reportedly he was modeling his attack after the 1999 Columbine High School shooting where 12 students and a teacher in addition to the two perpetrators were killed and 21 others were injured. Luckily Acord's plans were thwarted before the 17 year old had a chance to act - as police were tipped off he had produced a bomb and intended to detonate it at West Albany High School.

Based on other more neutral images of Grant Acord, he is shown to clearly have ptosis - which a drooping of the eyelids. This is greater on his left than his right. The cause may be congenital (which is common), due to surgery, injury, etc. Contextualizing this information with the low resolution image above and conclude his eyelids are opened wider here than his normal - indicative of rage. Even without this information from other photos however, the tightened appearance of his lower lids conveys significant anger. In addition, his eyebrows are significantly depressed (lowered) - also consistent with an anger display.

Acord's lips and "mustache area" demonstrate increased tension. Specifically his upper lip in particular is thinned-out. Thinning of the lips is a highly reliable signal of anger. When this lip-thinning occurs - a secondary tension, stretching and thus a vertical elongation occurs of the "mustache area" occurs (the distance from the lower nose to the upper lip margins increase). Had this image been of higher resolution, this tension could be further demonstrated by a horizontal straightening of the Cupid's bow and loss of definition (and flattening along with skin blanching) of the two vertical lines of the philtrum (which connect the medial nostrils with the cupids bow).

Lastly, although Acord's nose anatomy appears to have a natural up-turn to it (making his nostrils more visible from a straight-on view), in the image above both his nostrils are flared (although some may me natural asymmetry) which here is either anger-rage or anger mixed with disgust.

It is interesting to speculate what a look though Acord's H.S. yearbook would bring. How many of his school mates demonstrate moderate or severe anger? It's highly doubtful this would be greater than 1%. Shy expressions, yes. Poor smiles, yes. But not anger. And while we all as human beings are entitled to feel angry at times, very few of us would express it or pose this way for a photo. Thus this may be very well a valid way to screen for potential violence (a retrospective large scale study or in time a prospective large scale study may show this). Something to consider.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2259:  Game Show Killer Rodney Alcala Gets Two More Sentences - His Body Language Warning Signs

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2231:  A Common Facial Expression of Mass Killers - Using Body Language as a Threat Assessment Tool

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2313:  Elisa Lam Video in Elevator at Cecil Hotel -  What Her Body Language Tells Us ...

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

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2310:  Oscar Pistorius' Body Language in Court - Part II  Central Forehead Contraction, Frown & Pupil Dilation ... 

Crime Prevention Signal # 12:  Mild to Moderate Disgust, Mohamed Osman Mohamud  Portland, Oregon Christmas Tree Lighting Bomb Plot

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2394:  Three Brothers from Cleveland  Onil, Pedro and Ariel Castro -  Kidnapping, Innocence, Guilt & Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2396:  Ariel Castro Caught on Dash-Cam in a Traffic Stop in 2008 -  Body Language of Self-Disgust, Anxiety &  Emotional Dissonance