Monday, December 31, 2012

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2249:
The Most Misinterpreted Facial Expression of 2012 -
McKayla Maroney's "Not Impressed"
Body Language-Facial Expression

The most misinterpreted facial expression of 2012 was indeed McKayla Maroney who is shown here (with the facial expression in question) during the medal ceremony for the gymnastics Vault. The World-Class gymnast won a silver medal at the London Olympics in this event  (Ms. Maroney, of course, also contributed to her team's Gold medal performance). Although there can be no doubt that she is disappointed not to have won a gold in the vault - which based on her peak 2011 achievement when she won the World Championship in the vault was what she and many expected - her asymmetrical lip purse facial expression in this image was and continues to be dramatically misinterpreted. And that's what body language is all about - accurately discerning what a person is feeling-thinking in real-time.

Most everyone, including the press has completely misinterpreted her facial expression. Examples of these MISTAKES include of course "not impressed", contempt, disgust, pouty and scowl. There are multiple memes of her all over the internet and she has made the most of this mass misunderstanding (demonstrating a great self-marketing understanding). McKayla has even posed with Barack Obama in the Oval Office - where she and the President memed herself. However few if any of these memes even remotely resemble(d) the body language-facial expression which this world class gymnast's language displayed that day on the medal platform in London.

McKayla's asymmetrical lip purse expression in this Olympic moment is a classic nonverbal indicative of openly (non-secretively) deciding on a course of action. There is no disgust, contempt, sadness, scowl, pout, anger or any of the other negative emotions falsely assigned being displayed here. The next time you're in a restaurant, look around at those who are gazing at their menu's - or in any grocery store - you'll see a multitude of examples of McKayla's expression in a short time.

This is yet another example of how body language, emotions and motives are completely and routinely misinterpreted. The Emperor's New Clothes in a 21st century, internet-viral scale. 

See also:

Analysis # 551: Openly Weighing a Decision