Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2260:
'Top Chef' host Padma Lakshmi regarding
New Delhi's recent gang-rape,
Indian Culture and Sexual-Physical Harassment -
Body Language Nuance

Top Chef host, the beautiful Padma Lakshmi recently spoke out regarding the gang rape of an Indian woman in New Delhi. Time for some body language nuance ....

At the 0:02 second mark in this video (and at multiple other times in this short excerpt of a longer interview), she mentions " disgusted me", however the classic nonverbal expression of disgust was not expressed on her face at this time. Was she lying? No. First Padma was recounting what she had initially felt/thought upon hearing about the rape. Secondly, although her words said "disgusted", a more general negative emotion (which included many emotions) was conveyed in her body language - that of emotional blocking & emotional processing. For also at the 0:02 mark she displays a prolonged eyelid closure which together in this nonverbal cluster-context is her psyche attempting to block the "memory" of the event from her perspective (exhibition of high empathy) - her hearing about it, recalling her memories of harassment as a youth (which she recounts a few seconds later) when she had lived in India and the empathy she felt/feels for the victim/other similar victims. Ms. Lakshmi's simultaneous head/neck thrust forward as she said "disgusted" and exhibited this prolonged eyelid closure is an example of an illustrator which serves to add emphasis and is also part of this body language cluster

Not all prolonged eyelid closure indicates empathy and/or blocking unpleasant memories. Can you tell the difference?

There are several other nonverbal great examples included in this video as well. Freeze frame at both 0:04 very end - at 0:52 and you'll see her eyelids open wider than normal with some mid-face tightening as well as some subtle mouth configuration of fear This body language-facial expression is a display of fear. At this moment she is reliving a memory and re-experiencing a portion of that fear. 

Padma Lakshmi certainly has quite high Sincerity & Empathy Coefficients. She has spent a good deal of time reliving unpleasant memories and to a degree, putting herself in the shoes of the New Delhi gang-rape victim.