Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2122:
Eyes White and Wide -
Three Body Language Examples with
Two Different Emotional Causes

This video has three great nonverbal examples of two different emotions - that to the casual observer may seem identical - but are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The reporter's (Dan) eyes are opened extra-wide at the 0:15 mark, again at 0:16 and again at 0:18 - 19. During all three of these segments, his forehead is also actively contracted (with horizontal furrows) - which is difficult to see with his hat on, but is most clearly visible at the 0:16 mark. In this context this is a strong nonverbal signal of  insincerity and a form of pseudo-surprise. In true surprise the eyes flash widely open - but very briefly - and not repeatedly. If it lasts longer than a second or two - it is false. Sincere surprise also is followed rapidly by a second emotion (later this happens here - see below - but it's not immediate and occurs for a different reason). True surprise will have a rapid and widely open mouth, typically with a vertical oval shape. When this furrowed forehead is seen often - particularly with widely opened eyes - it's a red flag for a personality of insincerity. Steer clear.

The body language of fear for this infant has a significantly different forehead. There is an absence of horizontal furrows (folds) and for the most part it's relatively smooth - but with significant fear - as is displayed by this infant ("Drew the farm kid") - has a wide V-shaped bulging of muscles, the vertex of which meets between the tightly pulled together and downward directed inner eyebrows. Note his eyes are also opened very widely - which is classic for fear.

Interestingly at the 0:30 second mark, Dan the reporter also flashes a microexpression of fear - which unlike his earlier false-surprise-insincerity - IS sincere. He just made a child cry - and he's on live T.V.

At the 0:37 - 0:45 mark the male anchor is simultaneously covering BOTH of his eyes with his notes - usually performed with the hands - this a classic body language sign of empathy based embarrassment and emotional processing. He knows what just transpired, but he's still emotionally processing it. Then he still looks away (rotating his head far to his right) and then expresses a fear-mouth (0:46 - 0:47) - still empathizing with the reporter and/or child).

See also:

Analysis # 1171: Not So Fast Swift .... Taylor's False Surprise

Analysis # 1003: Obama's Dropped Jaw Smile

Analysis # 133: Blake Lively - Surprise or a Smile or Neither?

Analysis # 1261: True Surprise - Rarely Captured - Christine Lagarde