Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2261:
Mom pulls Python off of her 2 year old daughter -
Body Language & Microexpression of Fear

Tess Guthrie, a mother from Lismore, New South Wales, Australia had the scare of a lifetime recently. Waking to the hiss of her cat, she suddenly realized a snake had wrapped around her two year old's arm. She immediately grabbed the six foot python by its head and wrestled it off her daughter Zara. Although the snake had bit Zara three times, Ms. Guthrie probably saved her young daughter's life.

In this video Ms. Guthrie recounts the incident during an interview. At the 0:25 second mark she displays a great nonverbal example of a "Mouth of Fear" as she relives the emotions of that terrifying experience. This terror is manifested in a microexpression (extremely brief in duration) and is accompanied by a simultaneous but significantly more subtle tightening of the platysma. The platysma is a thin neck muscle which lies just beneath the skin on the front and sides of the neck and "tents up" - giving the highly characteristic (and yet very rarely noticed) "Neck of Fear". Although this neck muscular contraction is less prominent in this video example, it often is quite pronounced. 

These two body language signals - the "mouth of fear" and "neck of fear" virtually always co-exist and are extremely valuable nonverbal tells which are displayed many times a day in business, law, medical and sales professionals.

See also:

Body Language Secret # 702: Blake Lively's Mouth of Fear,  trying to Smile and  Forehead of Pain

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 1927: Italy's Fans watching Euro 2012 Final - Expressions of Fear

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2031: Tina Fey arriving at Alec Baldwin's Wedding,  Fear-Empathy with a (partial) Sincere Smile - Emotional Dissonance