Chris Brown GMA Interview: What story do his nonverbals tell?

March 23, 2011 by VisualEmotion LLC  
Filed under Facial Movements

Chris Brown is reported to have had a meltdown after his interview on GMA. More specifically he began screaming, tore off his shirt and broke a window before leaving the ABC morning show! Were there any signs of negative emotions such as rage, disgust or contempt in his behavior during the interview? Could they have predicted his fit of rage after?  Let’s examine!

Robin Roberts: “Have you all [Chris Brown and Rihanna] seen each other, been around each other?”

Chris Brown: before he even responds with any words he has already leaked out two micro expressions signalling his anger and disgust that were followed by a restrained anger expression. Look at: 56 seconds-micro disgust signaled by nose wrinkle and upper lip raise (AU 9+10) and 57 seconds - micro disgust again (AU 9+R10) and 1:08 - restrained anger by narrowing and tightening his lips (AU 23).

A little later Chris Brown stresses how he is there to talk about the album while Robin Roberts thanks him for allowing her to ask questions about the assault on Rihanna. In that moment Chris Brown let’s out a powerful expression signaling his level of anger and disgust at the situation. At  2:09 Chris Brown is avoiding eye contact with Robin Roberts and flashes a very brief expression of anger and disgust again seen by the strong raise in the upper lip, nose wrinkle and lowering of the brows and narrowing of the lips (Aus 4+9+10+23). This micro expression is automatically followed by another larger but restrained anger expression at 2:10 where his lips press and narrow significantly (AU23+24). There are several strong jaw clenches throughout the interview which can sometimes be nonverbal signals of restrained anger as well.

A final note regarding Chris Brows’s facial expressions is the fact that he comes across as very contemptuous. Contempt is a unilateral facial expression that occurs around one side of the mouth. It involves the pulling of one lip corner into a smug smile-like appearance. Chris Brown consistently makes this expression throughout the interview. Take a look at 0:57, 1:28, 1:34 and 2:40.

While it can be very difficult to predict someones behavior the level and amount of suppressed or hidden emotions was a clear indicator that Chris Brown was working hard to maintain his composure. Robin Roberts as the reporter here could have helped to diffuse the situation having noticed the level of discomfort from Chris Brown during the interview. As we see in this interview, facial expressions of emotion are an excellent source of information for any interviewer to be attuned to and can truly be used to ones advantage especially when talking about hot topics!

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