Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Body Language Analysis No. 4316: Sarah Paulson, The Met Gala, and Madonna - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTO)

Sarah Paulson was recently a guest on The Graham Norton Show promoting Ocean's Eight - a film in which she co-stars. In the video above, Ms. Paulson recounted The 2018 Met Gala - where she was upstaged by Madonna.

This image was captured at the moment when Ms. Paulson realized the reason no one was paying her any attention was because Madonna was standing nearby.

Sarah Paulson is an accomplished actor, however the emotion of surprise is virtually always portrayed erroneously while performing. This moment was true surprise. How can we differentiate sincere surprise from feigned/poorly acted surprise?

First, and most importantly, look at Paulson's mouth. It's opened very widely - as one would expect, but more specifically, it's in the shape of a vertically elongated oval. People who fake surprise (including actors) will open their mouth widely - however it's oriented wider horizontally.

But let's thin-slice this moment even further. Another reason we can be sure this moment is projecting sincere surprise is the lack of any visible teeth. In the first moment of surprise, teeth are rarely visible. When surprise is spurious - teeth are exposed.

You've probably noticed that Paulson's eyelids are opened widely - as they should be during true surprise. However, you've perhaps also picked up on the fact that Paulson's eyebrows are not elevated. While certainly one's eyebrows may be elevated during surprise - when the eyelids are opened very widely, but the eyebrows remain relatively neutral - this also indicates genuine surprise. This facial expression detail is difficult to fake - particularly on the fly. And it's also a nuance of which few actors are even aware - and rarely it is mastered.

Surprise is a very short-lived emotion - lasting only for a second or two. If it appears to last longer, it's either psychological shock, or much more commonly, it's bogus. The surprise is then rapidly followed up with another emotion (fear, anger, sadness, joy/happiness, etc.). Sarah Paulson's surprise was immediately supplanted by smiles and laughter.

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See also:

Body Language Analysis No. 4315: Rep. Jim Jordan grills Rod Rosenstein at DOJ hearing

Body Language Analysis No. 4312: South Korea Defeats Germany at The World Cup

Body Language & Emotional Intelligence - Analysis No. 4311: Jeff Sessions, "We never really intended to do that"

Body Language Analysis No. 4309: The Little Girl in Red, "Tender Age" shelters, and Empathy 

Body Language Analysis No. 4294: LeBron James, Adrenaline Surges, and Emotional Intelligence

Body Language Analysis No. 4246: Former senior KGB spy - says he was warned that Sergei Skripal and his daughter were in danger

Body Language Analysis No. 4198: Lupita Nyong'o, Black Panther, and Attention to Detail

Body Language Analysis No. 4071: Fans' Reaction to Trauma - Young Girl Hit By Foul Ball at Yankee Stadium 

Body Language Analysis No. 3982: Bangkok Police Officer's De-Escalation Genius