Sonia Kruger displays genuine sadness; the hardest expression to fake.

Yesterday, Sonia Kruger addressed her controversial comments about banning muslims from Australia, opening Today Extra with an emotional statement. With so many people already against her, as we can expect, this was followed by a social media blasting about her 'crocodile tears', (tears or expressions of sorrow that are insincere).

Sonia's true emotions were of course revealed through her body language. Without a doubt, she expressed genuine sadness. Absolutely no fakery involved. She was in fact, battling to suppress this emotion, probably to avoid tears. The sadness expression climaxed as she spoke the words, "I saw the image of a baby, covered in a plastic sheet, with a doll lying beside her, and it rocked me to the very core".

The sadness facial expression is one of the seven universal expressions (innate/across all cultures). We see sadness expressed by a combination of the following facial movements:

  • Inner corners of eyebrows drawn in and up
  • Droop in eyes/eyelids
  • Mouth pulled downwards
  • Lower lip pout
  • Chin back

In the screenshot below, we can see evidence of all of these movements. It's the hardest expression to fake, especially the muscle contractions that cause the specific movement we see in the eyebrows. 

Sadness

The other emotion that stands out in Sonia's statement, is anger. This is expressed alongside her expressions of sadness. Another of the universal expressions, anger is expressed through a combination of the following facial movements: 

  • Eyebrows lowered and drawn in
  • Vertical lines on forehead
  • Tense lips
  • Chin jutting forward
  • Eyes narrowing
  • Glaring of eyes

In the screenshots below, we can see evidence of all, but one (vertical lines on forehead), of these movements. 

Watch the video with the sound turned off and you'll really feel the anger being expressed, not just in the face, but also with the gestures. At 24 seconds into the video, Sonia picks up a pen and holds it with both hands, across her body. This is a blocking behaviour; we put our arms or an object in front of our body when we feel vulnerable. We are protecting our torso, the part of our body that contains our vital organs. Then for the climax, she aggressively uses the pen to point to herself and then at the audience as she says, "I imagined what that must have been like for the people of Nice". The camera zooms in, we can no longer see the pen, but if you turn the sound back on, you can hear it, she's fiddling with it. This is a self soothing or pacifying behaviour. We do this to comfort ourselves when we feel stressed, or even to bring more pleasure to an already pleasurable moment. In Sonia's case, she was stressed, it was not a pleasurable experience.

Another thing to look out for, is her breathing. Each time she inhales, we hear it and we also see it. Her upper body, arms and shoulders raise as she gasps for breath, she is clearly stressed.

One more thing I feel I should point out, is that Sonia showed no visible evidence that could indicate deceit, when she said, "I want to make it very clear that I have complete respect for people of all races and religions".

In writing this article, I've felt myself sad, to the point that my eyes are welling up, and angry. My mirror neurons are firing as I study and mimic Sonia's gestures; I quite literally feel her pain. My physiology is changing my emotions and I've come around to feeling sympathy for Sonia, when initially I had none.

I believe that as a person of influence, expressing controversial beliefs such as these, is crossing a line. When a person of influence speaks out in this way, it gives others licence to publicly voice their own opinions. Opinions that otherwise may have been held within, or filtered for certain audiences, within their social group.

Free speech is a good thing. However, we all have a perceived line which defines what we do and don't express (to certain audiences), in terms of our emotions, beliefs, values and even our use of language. We adhere to our line to protect ourselves from the negative impressions and consequential behaviour from others, and to protect others from things that may offend them. This is part of our emotional intelligence. By speaking out, Sonia not only crossed her own line, but also nudged the line (for some people) of what is publicly acceptable. Ultimately, this facilitates division and incites racial hatred. 

You can see the full statement below:

Sophie ZadehComment