Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2482:
Alex Rodriguez's Sincerity
Body Language of a One-Sided Smile (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Unilateral "smiles" are almost always not smiles at all. The vast majority of what are perceived of as one-sided smiles are nearly always either (in decreasing order of frequency):

  • An Insincere Smile
  • A Signal of Regret
  • A Contempt display 

However this particular asymmetric expression exampled by A-Rod (during 1:12 - 1:20 in the above video and captured at 1:14 in the images below) is an important exception, because a Sincere (Duchenne) Smile can be either:

  • A partially Suppressed Smile of Joy-Happiness or
  • A Sincere Smile in the initial or end-stages of its expression 

Can you tell the difference between the five different emotions?

We cannot see A-Rod's forehead, but in this moment it would show no dynamic contraction. Thus there may be very mild horizontal lines on his forehead associated with simple aging (A-Rod is 38), but no furrows consistent with muscle contraction.

While the left corner of Rodriquez's mouth (our right) is contracted laterally, the primary vector of its motion is upward. The left cheek muscle is contacted upwards pulling the corner of mouth up with it. Notice only A-Rod's upper teeth are visible.

Alex's left eyelids are partially closed. This is an absolute requirement for a Duchenne (Sincere) Smile. Along with this partial closure, there is a dynamic (temporary) concave-up furrow created in the lower left eyelid - while not present on his right. This is due to contraction of the outer portion of the eyelid closing muscle [orbicularis oculi (pars orbitalis)].

The reason A-Rod is not fully expressing his sincere smile is that only a few seconds prior he was expressing (and suppressing as well) significant sadness. He displayed several body language signals of this negative emotion. Did you spot them all (see tomorrow's post)?  Then beginning at 0:43, he says, "I am thrilled - and humbled - to have the opportunity - to put on this uniform again - and to play major league baseball again - and um - I feel like ah - like I was eighteen years old back in Fenway Park in 1994 - When I went in to, ah,  face the Red Sox for the first time ...."

Alex Rodriguez was feeling emotional dissonance - here the competing emotions of sadness and then happiness. Thus A-Rod's expression of joy, and his sincere smile, was for these moments naturally suppressed.

See also:

Negotiation Body Language Secret # 353: Brad Pitt's Smiling Eyes - Sincere and Insincere Smiles

Sincerity Secret # 55: Isabelle Giordano - Sincere Smile or is it Insincere?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1905:  Ann Curry's Smile and Sincerity Quotient

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2474:  Mayor Bob Filner's False Smile -  Insincerity, Body Language and San Diego

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2424:  Giada De Laurentiis on Conan O'Brien  Beautiful Teeth but Insincere Smiles and  Some Body Language Signals of Waning Love

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2423:  Kirsten Gillibrand regarding Senate Hearing -  What other Body Language Accompanies Blushing? 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2191:  Anne Hathaway's Impersonation of Katie Holmes on SNL -  "Norming" Katie and Variations on a Theme 

Dating & Romance Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1010:  What Makes the Twinkle in Rashida Jones' Eye?