Of all the Super Bowl ads this year, the most watched was 84 Lumber's 90 second one titled, "The Journey Begins". At its end, the viewers are directed to a longer version (above) named, "The Entire Journey" (nearly six minutes) via a company website, Journey84.com. Initially, this sight crashed from the extreme volume of those interested in seeing its conclusion.
The mother and daughter who travel far, mostly on foot, much of it through desert wilderness, end up coming to an immense wall - which of course, is implied to be Donald Trump's proposed wall along the US-Mexican border.
Of course, the mother and the daughter are actors - and yet, particularly with the actor portraying the mother, her performance is so strong that she suspends our disbelief - and we for a moment think-feel-believe we're watching a documentary.
From a nonverbal perspective, what to many was the most emotionally evocative moment, was when the mother, taken by surprise, looks up and first sees the wall. We feel crestfallen when we, like her daughter, see her face. The reason for felt this way was her particular facial expression.
In short, what jumps out at us is the combination of her forehead-eyes and her mouth. The elevated central forehead (in the context of simultaneous "sad mouth") is what Charles Darwin called "The Grief Muscle". Along with the forehead, the central (medial) eyebrows are drawn upward. Note the specific subtleties coexisting with her mouth expression - its corners down-turned and the lips full and forwardly vectored. In addition her nostrils are also flared. Indeed, she looks morose - as if she is about to cry and never stop.
When most people (yet intriguingly not everyone) see this expression, it evokes a very strong mirroring effect both on our faces and in our psyches. We feel her sadness, sometimes relatively deeply and suddenly - even if we don't know her or the source of her pain (Her daughter looks up to her and exhibits this exact behavior). This phenomenon is observed whether the cause of the pain is emotional or physical.
In summary, this expression strongly engenders empathy in others. Very rapidly, "Their journey becomes our journey". We all can be distracted or preoccupied - however in those individuals who consistently do not feel empathy for others when they see this particular facial expression, will tend to have lower empathy quotients (over-all, a lower life time empathy potential and practice).
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