Monday, November 24, 2014

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3022: Bill Cosby's Decades-Long Trademark Look - What Does It Tell Us? (PHOTO)

At last count there are at least 15 women who allege various levels of sexual assault to blatant rape against Bill Cosby. A comedian since the early sixties who began acting as well in 1965, he adopted a few trademark looks - one of which is pictured here. Yet what does his body language tell us?

Is this smile sincere? Absolutely not. We have become normalized and desensitized to his expression here because he is famous and has been seen on television for years.

A smile can never be sincere if the forehead is contracted - never. And although Cosby's upper eyelids are a bit droopy from age (mild age-related ptosis) his eyelids are not partially closed in active muscular contraction as is ALWAYS required when a smile is sincere.
Moreover there is no dynamic, concave-up furrowing of Cosby's lower eyelids - none at all. The absence of this crucial nonverbal signal alone precludes any sincerity of his "smile" (ergo a false-smile).

It is not necessary that any teeth be exposed in order for a smile to be considered sincere. A sincere smile can have a suppressed mouth component - yet that is not at all what's seen here. While most of Cosby's mouth is slightly concave upward - there is very little over-all upward vectoring as there would be in a fully expressed, sincere smile (Rather, most of it is directed laterally). Notice also that although the center of his mouth is mildly concave-up, the mouth corners are down-turned. In addition, Cosby's "mustache area" is tense and stretched.

Cosby's arm-gripping, arm-cross - as well as his elbows and upper arms in-close to his torso - is a very beta nonverbal cluster and not at all natural looking when attempting to smile. This added arm/hand/torso configuration is a very posed component in this over-all cluster (and thus of course posed) - it's in an attempt to say, "I am safe" - yet this directly contradicts and is betrayed by his facial expression.

In summary: In no way does this "false smile" come anywhere close to projecting sincerity. This photo is representative of Cosby's long-term acting persona - which may very be similar to or identical to his real personal - and it shouts insincerity and patronizing emotional tones. If he was not a famous actor and we were to see this expression on anyone walking down the street this expression would have a very high "Creepiness-Factor". That's not a coincidence.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3021: Barack Obama's Executive Action on Immigration - What the President's Body Language Said Before He Even Spoke

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3019: Bill Cosby, Rape Allegations, AP Interview - Body Language Tells

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2922: Evacuating Yazidis from Iraq's Mount Sinjar - A Daughter's Anguish, Empathy and Mirror Neurons

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2474:  Mayor Bob Filner's False Smile -  Insincerity, Body Language and San Diego

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2508: Anne Frank, Sincere Smiles and Emotional Comfort

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2957: Derek Jeter Gatorade - Made in New York Commercial - A Little Boy's Classic Surprise

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2863: Gary Oldman's Apology on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" - Sincere or Insincere?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2933: Will Hayden ("Sons of Guns") Arrested - Body Language of His Mug Shot