Kristen Stewart was a guest on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon yesterday. Kristen and Jimmy played one of his many games - "Word Blurt".
From a body language perspective, Kristen gives us a fantastic example of a common (and relatively complex) nonverbal cluster - yet one rarely described.
In the image below (captured during the 1:42 segment of the video) take note of Ms. Stewart's mouth - it's an amalgam of both fear and yet it's projecting some joy as well. The corners are pulled laterally and down and yet simultaneously her cheeks are partially vectored upwards. Stewart's eyelids are partially closed and have subtle markers of concave up furrows in her lower lids (although this is by no means a complete "eye smile"). She is displaying a slight amount of facial bushing too. Her central forehead is contracted (CFC) and elevated along with her inner (medial) eyebrows. Kristen's shoulders are hunched and her neck is foreshortened and she's leaning forward. Lastly her hand is oriented palm-up and fingers spread with her arm held close to her torso.
This cluster tells of fear - yet a low grade, public fear, consistent with the embarrassment of losing while playing a game of low consequence. Emotional dissonance is of course present because in the same instant Ms. Stewart is exhibiting a partial smile of joy-happiness. Her elevated inner eyebrows and central forehead contraction in this fear/joy mixture are (along with the palm-up hand) asking for our empathy and thus some latitude with her response. Kristen's neck-shoulder contraction/leaning forward along with the arm being held close to her torso display a low degree of expectation in the asking - as if her body is saying, I know it's a stretch, but pleeeeease give it to me?
Although this example is taken from a comedy-talk show, it's a fantastic display of what we all see throughout our day - two or more emotions existing - and thus projecting - simultaneously (or in rapid succession). Such mash-ups of emotions and their nonverbal signals are very often of what the real world is made. It's much like listening to (or playing) two or three songs from different artists and disparate genres. Yet most people only hear (see) one verse (emotion).
False dichotomies abound!
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