In this interview of Katie Holmes less than six months after her divorce from Tom Cruise, the beautiful and talented actress gives us a great example of a "Social Etiquette Fear Face" (aka Low Level Fear Expression).
At 6:59 (captured in images below) and lasting less than one second (but slightly longer duration than that of a microexpression) Katie displays a classic fear mouth and fear neck - but without any eye manifestations of fear. This lack of fear-related eye findings is consistent with significantly low levels of "fear" - at least subjectively. So if a person's subconscious feels the need to express a low level of acted fear - such that is necessary for social etiquette - they will show it in their mouths - but not our eyes. If eye findings of even a small amount are seen, you can be sure that the level of fear is significant. You may not know why they feel such fear, but you can be sure they do.
The appearance of Katie's lips - stretched tight laterally with the outer portions opened slightly and the center lips touching - is consistent with this low level social-etiquette fear. Note also how Ms. Holmes neck tightens up momentarily (please see the video to fully appreciate this). This neck of fear is oft missed by most and a detail rarely discussed in the nonverbal literature. It is not usual that the mouth will show almost no movement but the neck and usually the eyes will show subtle (but highly significant) manifestations of fear. Miss this body language tell and important information will be lost.
How does the mouth of mild fear differ from the mouth display of higher levels of fear?
Do you know all the "Eye findings of Fear"? Can you spot subtle or moderate levels of "Eye Fear" and differentiate them from other emotions? Most otherwise socially-skilled people cannot.
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