Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2108:
Rihanna's and Chris Brown's Kiss and Hug
What are they REALLY feeling?

At the 0:04 mark in the above video, Rihanna and Chris Brown can be seen hugging at the MTV Video Music Awards. This was the first public display of affection since Chris Brown plead guilty to one count of felony-assault for beating Rihanna in 2009. Careful attention to their hug gives us a glimpse into their emotions towards each other. 

The video is low resolution so we cannot see if Rihanna's eyes close. When eyes close during a hug it is a strong body language signal of affection. We cannot see Brown's eyes as well, since we only have this one angle. This particular affection-display can also of course be seen in platonic relationships, between siblings as well as between parents and children (adult or children/infant).

Notice that Chris "leans into the hug". The further the lean, the less body contact there is and the less affection is being felt. The less leaning the more contact - and thus more affection. Notice the considerably greater body "leaning-in" during Rihanna's next hug.

Chris Brown also hugs his former lover with only one arm - again a signal of less affection. This is in strong distinction to Rihanna - who reciprocates with two arms - a nonverbal sign of a relatively higher level of affection. Rihanna also clearly has both of the palms of her hands touching Chris - a signal of true and sincere affection. Lack of palmar touch is a beacon of low affection. Notice also there is no patting of Rihanna's hands during the hug. Patting of one's hands during a hug is a common non-affectionate body language display - or that the hug has gone on "long enough" and it's time for it to end.

Chris Brown's also head tilts away from Rihanna during the hug, while her's does not exhibit this distancing phenomenon. 

In conclusion, while they did kiss (polite peck), Rihanna feels considerably more affection towards Chris Brown than he feels towards her.