Monday, April 22, 2013

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2376:
Reese Witherspoon's Arrest & Mug Shot
Her Body Language Reveals ....

Reese Witherspoon was arrested along with her husband last Friday in Atlanta, Georgia. Jim Toth, a Hollywood agent, was charged with DUI (blood alcohol level was 0.139), while the Academy Award winning actress was booked with disorderly conduct for which she later apologized.

In her mug shot seen here - what is most obvious to most is her lack of eye contact - and downward directed head, neck and eyes. These are all directed down and to her right - the direction most right-hand dominant people look during significant levels of sadness. This is consistent with shame and emotionally processing a significant event - both of which are being expressed in this moment. She may be blushing as well, although it is difficult to tell.

What has been misinterpreted here is what many people would call a "smirk" or a "partial smile". Note her mouth's dramatic asymmetry. This is not a suppressed smile - but a manifestation of contempt. And although the actress may have earlier felt a good deal of contempt towards the officer who arrested her, in the moment of this photo Reece's contempt is probably self-directed - mixed with the emotion of regret. In regret-self-contempt, the corner of the mouth takes on more of an lateral vector along with significantly less nostril flaring vs. contempt felt towards another person or group (although detail of Witherspoon's nose is difficult to visualize in this low resolution) where the mouth and cheek muscle are directed more upwards and with more nasal flaring. The forward tilt of her head & neck gives the left corner of her mouth a false appearance of more upward curvature.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2323: Jodi Arias Murder Trial - The Body Language of Self-Contempt-Regret

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2059:  Musharraf has Contempt towards Pakistan's Intelligence Agency

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2172:  Governor Chris Christie's Body Language of Contempt -  Microexpressions and Subtle Displays

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2350:  Contempt - both dramatic and subtle - Backpedaling and Body Language

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2373:  We Feel Contempt towards  Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev - What Does His Body Language Reveal?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2178:  Little Girl Tells Pippa Middleton, "I Hate Princesses"  Pippa's Body Language of Contempt ...

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1407:  Auboni Champion-Morin  Reunited with Kidnapped Son After 8 Years -  Microexpression of Contempt towards kidnapper