Sunday, April 8, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1511:
Hands Held High, Fiero & Oosthuizen -
An Albatross at the Masters

Louis Oosthuizen is shown celebrating with his caddy at the Masters Tournament earlier today. This video and image were captured immediately after the South African golfer hit an "Albatross" on the second hole. Otherwise known as a Double Eagle, this was only the four such a shot in Masters history as well as the first one ever televised (I'm not a golfer and I've never  heard this golf term before today - but you've just got to love the metaphor - the bird with the longest wingspan on Earth).

Although there are exceptions, the vast majority of the times when the hands are lifted spontaneously over the head, it is a body language expression of positive emotions.

See also: Secret # 1490: Kansas Surrenders

At the 0:30 mark in the video, Oosthuizen and his caddy exemplify this principle in the universal, double-handed "High Five" - a shared Emblem of Fiero [and later at the 1:00 mark a largely - the more common and (largely missed) single handed variation]. An emblem is a nonverbal gesture, symbol or facial expression that has a well understood meaning within a region or culture. While the meaning of this particular emblem is recognized worldwide, the majority of the time an emblem's meaning will vary from place to place, so great care must be taken not to misinterpret them.

Note also that the higher spectator-fans (in golf, they're are termed, "the gallery") or any audience holds their hands higher during an applause - the greater is their approval & shared-joy experience.

Fiero is experienced - primarily or often secondarily via empathy - when a great obstacle is over-come - regardless of its source. The specific feeling for this elation is termed "Fiero". Coined by the Italian Psychologist, Isabella Poggi, the emotion has no direct English translation. Many find it ironic that in addition to being the World's lingua franca and often touted as having more words than any other language (difficult to quantify, estimates range from 250,000 to 500,000), English suffers from a relative lack of words to express the variation and nuance of positive emotions. At the moment when it's most intense, the face of fiero resembles that of pain (here an instant after the double high-five at about the 0:30 mark - and in the still image below). Shortly thereafter though, this initial, counter intuitive facial nonverbal (similar to the face expressed during sexual orgasm), transitions to the more well recognized face of sincere joy-happiness.

Fiero is a unique emotion, most commonly photographed or video captured at sporting events. Although it is most powerful when it's a shared experience - fiero does not require an audience and is not braggadocio. Here, both the athlete and the many fans bathe in its shared joy - although it is more muted in the etiquette of golf than with many sports (such as futbol/soccer, tennis or the Le Tour de France, etc.), it is still expressed and a crucial component of the human experience. It is fascinating to note - that with the exceptions of sporting events and many musical concerts - and to a somewhat lesser degree at religious services and at political events - full expression of fiero is rarely condoned or accepted. Thus it can be argued, that in addition to their more obvious, measurable and direct functions - these forums serve the further purpose - and perhaps a far more important one - of providing us an outlet to more fully express our positive emotions

Alas, Oosthuizen finished second to Bubba Watson (who never had a golf lesson in his life) in a sudden death play-off. Don't feel too bad for him though - he made Master's history and walked away with $864,000.

See also: Fiero after Accomplishment

See also: Body Language at the FIFA World Cup

See also: Secret # 20: Fiero Feels Good - Mirror Neurons