Saturday, April 16, 2016

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3531: Helen Mirren, Subways, Sincerity, Empathy and Body Language (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Helen Mirren is a fantastic actress. Yet when she's just being herself (not "in character" or without help from a director - or having the advantage of multiple takes) - she's no better at projecting false feelings than most anyone else. What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis of the above video.

Early in this video, when Jimmy Fallon holds up this image of Ms. Mirren riding on the NYC Subway, Helen points out the man next to him is

"Manspreading". This is a recent colloquial term for a "Seated Crotch Display". In crowed settings, such as a subway, this body language is very likely be a signal of narcissism. However depending on the context and the other nonverbals with which it is cluster, it can signal quite different emotional tones. Be warned against interpreting any body language in isolation.

When Ms. Mirren and Mr. Fallon point out members of The Roots (Mark Kelley, left and Kirk Douglas, right) configured in seated crotch displays - they are wrong to group this behavior with the same meaning as sitting next to someone in a subway, a plane, etc.

Here each man is playing an instrument (mechanically, this requires differences compared with sitting/resting/riding passively in a subway - and their comfort is crucial to make music), it's a dramatically different context (vs. a subway), playing an instrument (particularly on national TV) is a considerably alpha behavior - and the men are sitting much further apart (thus not encroaching on each others personal or intimate space). So while this is an alpha display (and also very helpful in playing the guitar or bass) - the band members sitting in this manner and in this context is not indicative of Narcissism.

When Helen Mirren begins to tell her story, she wraps both hands around her lower torso (1:58) and abdomen in a self-hugging MAP (Manipulator, Adaptor, Pacifier). This is one type of self-soothing nonverbal very commonly seen associated with anxiety and lower levels of emotional comfort.

During 2:07 we see Ms. Mirren display an elevated Central Forehead Contraction (CFC) with components of a mouth frown. In addition her palms are directed upwards (oblique) with open fingers. This nonverbal cluster is highly congruent with her verbal messaging as well as her paralanguage - thus revealing this to be a high sincerity quotient moment.

This image captured during 3:21 - with both palms to her face indicates elevated anxiety, with high levels of both empathy and sincerity. People with low empathy almost never use this nonverbal illustrator.


This head down, face covered posture although similar to the moment above, has the additional emotional meanings of

shame and embarrassment.

Hands held to the face as shown in these two moments is also indicative of the emotional brain attempting to process what the logical brain already knows.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3530: Justin Trudeau, Quantum Computing and Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3527: North Carolina's Governor Pat McCrory Statement regarding His Order That "Clarifies" Controversial Gender Identity Bill

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3483: Kate Winslet's Reaction to Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for Best Actor

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3489: Margot Robbie wants Prince Harry 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3358: Hillary Clinton on Stephen Colbert - We Let the Banks Fail Next Time 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3353: Melissa Benoist's Body Language regarding Jeb Bush's Supergirl "Hot" comment 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3292: Empathy, Yawning and Dogs 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2922: Evacuating Yazidis from Iraq's Mount Sinjar - A Daughter's Anguish, Empathy and Mirror Neurons