Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3106: Amazing Selfie Proposal - Body Language Components of Surprise (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Most surprise is falsified - this is a fantastic viral video illustrating the facial expression of sincere surprise. Lisa May's boyfriend recorded his proposal initially disguised as a common selfie.

What follows is a partial body language analysis ...


Initial Fake Selfie


Eyebrows vectored downward and slightly inwards

Eyelids partially closed

She's thinking, trying to figure out what's her boyfriend is doing


Notice the diminution of the wrinkles on the bridge of her nose - she's no longer in deep concentration.

This image is in the milliseconds just before her surprise sets in.

Eyebrows have mostly relaxed upwards.



Contraction on bridge of nose completely relaxed.

This image is just after Ms. May's surprise is beginning. Both eyes are slightly opened more than baseline - particularly her left eyelid.

Eyebrows are relaxed (not downward directed)

0:17.4 early surprise

Very slight nostril flaring

Jaw begins to drop


Eyelids significantly more opened

Nostrils beginning to flare

Jaw more loose and dropping
(From where the old colloquial "slack-jawed" derives)


Eyelids and mouth opens more


Further opening of eyelids, nostrils and mouth

Forehead begins to contract




Prolonged Eyelid Closure simultaneous with Contraction of full width of forehead - indicates momentary disbelief.

She is emotionally processing this event. Her intellect knows what has happened - yet emotionally - she does not fully believe what has transpired.


Highly characteristic nonverbal mouth configuration of sincere surprise (It's opened more vertical than feigned surprise). No teeth are showing.

 Still in disbelief


Full Surprise

Forehead fully contracted

Eyes Wide Opened

Nostrils Flared

Mouth Opened significantly Vertically 

No Teeth Exposed


Both eyes and mouth opened even more than previous image

Greater vertical component to mouth

Not every surprise is a marriage proposal. Thus most INsincere surprises are difficult for most people to differentiate. Do you know how to tell the difference?

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3105: Joe Biden, Ashton Carter & Stephanie Carter - Vice President Encroaches into New Defense Secretary's Wife's Intimate Space

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret No. 1261:  True Surprise - Rarely Captured  IMF Director Christine Lagarde

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 21:  Surprise + Fear + Empathy

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2997: Halloween Haunted Houses - Transitioning from Expressions of Surprise to Fear

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret No. 1171:  Not So Fast Swift ....  Taylor's False Surprise

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3056: Jeb Bush Interview - 14 Dec. 2014 - Body Language Tells