Monday, January 9, 2017

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3811: Hayden Panettiere, Stephen Colbert and Personal Space - Body Language and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Hayden Panettiere's recent guest appearance on The Late Show provides many nonverbal displays worthy of analysis - and in this video, the subtopic of personal space certainly seems to "jump out at you".

Talk shows often arrange up their stages in a manner which makes it physically uncomfortable for the guest. While the host (sitting behind a desk) is in a swivel chair, the guests are in fixed chairs which are set at 90 degree angles from the hosts'. That is the case with The Late Show. This setup makes the guests either twist their backs in their chairs or lean forward. 

Barriers alienate us in exchange for increased alpha status and/or protection. The desk is an authority prop which is not necessary - or at least it could be greatly reduced. An example of this would be having the desk facing the audience but with no barrier facing the guests.

The way Stephen Colbert's desk is set up makes him want to lean across it to compensate (0:39), in an effort to minimize the barrier effect.

But then an unexpected thing occurs - Panettiere reciprocates and leans just as far forward (or more) - into Colbert's personal space (or more specifically into his intimate space at 0:41). While mirroring is normal behavior during moments of good rapport - moving into another person's space to this degree is very much out of context.

Colbert then quickly pulls his torso backward (and leans away) - which is a very normal response for such an unexpected encroachment (0:42).

Then Ms. Panettiere leans even more forward (0:50). This time Mr. Colbert is somewhat prepared and suppresses the impulse to pull away.

At 2:38 Panettiere lunges forward, even further into Colbert's intimate space and grabs him. Colbert's widely opened eyelids as well as his flared nostrils with the corners of his mouth pulled laterally and downward indicate a fear response (this is not Colbert acting).

Actors act. When we see a film or TV show we want to believe in heroes and villains. We want them, via their acting, to suspend our disbelief. But when they are guests on talk shows, we want to see "the real person". This is not however, always the same thing the actor desires. Hayden Panettiere's repeated invasion of Colbert's personal space is not natural or normal behavior. It was extremely out of context and proportion. The most likely explanation for this is deliberate melodrama for PR purposes.

In the everyday world, we see many examples of similar (albeit somewhat reduced) behavior very often. In those settings (a chance meeting a coffee shop, discussions with co-workers, etc.) we would be accurate to call such melodrama examples of insincerity. Indeed, some people essentially are role-playing many portions of their persona. Such individuals make us feel as if they are always acting.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3810: Mark Wahlberg, Justine Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3808: Felicity Jones' Sincere Smile

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3806: The Bachelor Nick Viall Awkwardly Reunites with Ex-Girlfriends Andi Dorfman and Kaitlyn Bristowe on Jimmy Kimmel

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3790: Senator John McCain Believes Russian Election Interference Could 'Destroy Democracy'

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3716: Fatherhood, Body Language, Emotional Intelligence and Ashton Kutcher's Pants

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3664: Benjamin Netanyahu, Viktor Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3577: Tape Face - America's Got Talent 2016 Auditions 

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3490: Conor McGregor, being a Plumber and LeBron James