Gordon Hayward fractured his tibia and dislocated his ankle in dramatic fashion Tuesday night as the Boston Celtics lost their first game of the season in a 102-99 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This image was taken seven seconds after the fracture. Notice the position of Hayward's hands. His palms are centered on his temples.
Multiple players and audience members also are touching/grabbing parts of their heads' and faces'.
Jaylen Brown puts his hands on back/sides of his head. In addition, his mouth is open in a classic surprise configuration. Note how there are no teeth visible (indicating sincere surprise).
Dwayne Wade kneels as he touches his eyebrows/lower central forehead. In this context, his closed eyelids are empathy amplifiers.
Here, fans for both teams can be seen covering the tops of their heads. Their elbows are directed laterally with their armpits exposed. This configuration of Head Touching after a dramatic event is more common with the event is negative (note how similar this is to a surrender pose during an arrest or in war) - and it's also more common in men than women.
LeBron James adopts a similar posture as Dwayne Wade.
In this photo we see onlookers adopt three variations of this same phenomenon.
Multiple fans and players even use clothing or towels as surrogates to aid in covering their faces'/mouths'.
A rapid covering of the head and/or face is a commonly seen body language reaction immediately after witnessing, hearing of, or even reading about an extreme and unexpected event. This is true whether it's very good or bad news - although this nonverbal behavior is certainly not exhibited by everyone.
Rapid covering of the head and/or face is a manifestation of "Emotional Processing" - when the intellect knows what has happened, but the emotional brain is still grappling with what's occurred. The emotional brain has disbelief for what the logical brain knows to be real.
Fascinatingly, those individuals who cover their faces'/heads' after such events have higher over-all empathy levels - as well as higher sincerity quotients. Those who don't display this behavior have lower empathy and low sincerity quotients. Such observations allow a careful observer to predict how a person will behave to later and completely unrelated events/scenarios.
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