Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3269: Context, Head Shaking and Hoverboards - Body Language (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Arthur C. Clarke

As if on cue for Marty McFly's arrival on 21 October 2015 - a working hoverboard has been invented by a team at Lexus. The video of its first public test runs are included above. Much of the initial riding (piloting) of the hoverboard was performed by Skateboarder Ross McGouran. Toward the beginning of this video there is a great example of emotional processing providing for us an excellent nonverbal teaching moment.

This image was captured during the 0:27 second segment. Although only the right half of his face is visible (it's a valid assumption in this context that his left side is mirroring his right) we can clearly see McGouran is displaying all the following facial displays:

1. A relaxed forehead
2. Partial closure of the eyelids
3. Concave-up furrow in the lower eyelid
4. Upward vectoring of the cheeks
5. Only upper teeth visible
6. Blushing

This cluster of nonverbal components is absolutely definitive for a sincere smile (Duchenne Smile). Yet the evaluation doesn't stop here. When you view the video, you will note that during the 0:26 - 0:28 segment, McGouran is shaking his head laterally. Of course throughout most (but not all) of the World, if you ask people what is meant by a side-to-side head shake (partial, oscillating rotation) virtually everyone, include very young children will tell you that such behavior is a nonverbal indicator of "No". Hold that thought for a moment.

Consider the English word, "Hot". We can say, "Oh look at her, she's hot!" (meaning sexually attractive) or we can say, "Scoville units are the standard of measure for how hot a chili pepper tastes" (spicy hot). We may say, "The subject of Donald Trump running for U.S. President(Republican Nomination) is currently a very hot topic (indicating a subject for which many people are currently interested) or, "In Phoenix today it was so hot!" (high temperature). Here we have four different meanings of the word, "hot" - and they are all spelled the same and pronounced the same. This is an example of a homonym. When the word is isolated, it's impossible to tell which of these meanings is the proper one. However when "hot" is used in a sentence, anyone is able to discern what is meant.

There are many nonverbal homonyms as well. A lateral head shake is just one of these. Viewing this video once again, it's very important to note that while McGouran is shaking his head, he's also displaying a sincere smile. The above six components of a sincere smile in addition to the lateral head shake constitute a nonverbal cluster - and this one indicates a joyful disbelief coupled with a component of emotional processing. Ross McGouran's vision is telling him something that he's having trouble believing. We are witnessing a very common outward manifestation of a person's emotional brain trying to catch up to a fact which the intellect already knows.

I'm picking up my Delorean on Friday (Anyone have any spare plutonium?).

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3268: Advice to the Ten Republicans for Thursday Night's Presidential Debate

Sincerity Secret No. 55: Isabelle Giordano - Sincere Smile or is it Insincere?  

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3125: Vladimir Putin, Suppressed Smiling & Blushing 

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

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2424:  Giada De Laurentiis on Conan O'Brien  Beautiful Teeth but Insincere Smiles and  Some Body Language Signals of Waning Love 

Dating & Romance Nonverbal Communication Secret No. 1010: Rashida Jones - What Makes the Twinkle in Her Eye? 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2915: The Many Faces of Tony Stewart 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3262: Donald Trump, Breast Pumping and Donald's "That's Disgusting"