It's been almost 15 years since the murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Connor. On 14 September 2017, ABC aired a program reviewing her murder and the ensuing investigation - a segment of which is included in the video above.
Scott Peterson (Laci's husband, Conner's father, and the killer) displayed a myriad of very telling nonverbal signals. What follows is a partial nonverbal analysis.
SCOTT PETERSON (beginning at 5:58): There is a lot of questions on why I have not been in the media. Media will put, I believe, emotional stuff out there for a couple days - and then the story would get dropped for something else. It was our thoughts, that if - 'f I was to hold back from the media, the media would continue to come because, frankly, cameras, reporters want something they Ω they can't get right away. So this was our way of keeping the media coming back for us.
DIANNE SAWYER (beginning at 6:37): So many people said, 'Christmas Eve, you have a very pregnant wife * and you decide to go fishing?'
SCOTT PETERSON (beginning at 6:43): My day was open to - um - y'know - play golf or go fishing. I chose fishing that day, which was - you know, ahum, choice I made, and I, obviously regret now. You know if I could - § and this would not have happened.
During 6:23, just after Scott Peterson says, "... because, frankly, cameras, reporters they want something they - but immediately before says, they can't get right away ...", Scott Peterson displays a partial (suppressed) mouth smile (notated with Ω).
During 6:42, just after Diane Sawyer says, "So many people said, 'Christmas Eve, you have a very pregnant wife" and just before she completes her sentence with, 'and you decide to go fishing?' " - Scott Peterson displays a quite subtle, but very telling microexpression (notated by *). Again this is a mouth smile out of context. Watch this portion at regular-speed and at half-speed several times as the still images don't capture the dynamic motion of this nonverbal signal.
During 7:01 - 7:02, just after he says, "You know if I could - just decided to stay home" and just before he says, "and this would not have happened" - Scott Peterson again displays a partial mouth smile (notated with §).
Smiling out of context (and importantly these are suppressed smiles) should always throw up red flags. Of course, the cause may very well be something innocuous - such a gaffe in church or with an impending practical joke - but it is always a signal there is some emotion being withheld. Nowhere is this nonverbal axiom truer than during a discussion regarding the disappearance and/or murder of one's spouse.
Suppressed smiling and/or subtle smiling out of context are forms of "Duping Delight". This phenomenon occurs when a person takes sincere pleasure in the belief that they are successfully deceiving someone. Of course, you may very well not agree with their actions, motives, or feelings - but of course, it's their emotions and perceptions controlling their nonverbal behavior.
Learning to spot subtle smiles, suppressed smiles, microexpression smiles, and smiling out of context will save you time, money, hassle - and maybe even your life. While these behaviors are certainly not always nefarious, sincere emotions are being experienced - and yet they're being squelched. And there are times you should always endeavor to learn the reason.
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