Reading Emotions: Anxiousness

Anxiousness is one of those emotional states we see in the face; but perhaps most of all we see it in the movements of the body.

(Note: there is purposely no audio with the above video)

When we become anxious we lose some control over our actions. Carrie’s hands are raised, partially covering her face, as her fingers scratch nervously. Her gaze is unfocused and shifts direction from side to side and then upwards.

Feeling anxious or distressed is shown in the mouth – and here Carrie’s mouth is stretched and then becomes slack and turned down. She’s at a loss as to how to answer a difficult question, as she gives way to negative thoughts.

When someone is in the grips of anxiety they temporarily go into an emotional ‘bubble,’ losing awareness of the person they are having a discussion with.

Signs to note

  • partially covering her face with her hands
  • unfocused gaze
  • shifting direction of gaze from left to right, then up
  • scratching her hand
  • mouth stretched, then drooping down

By John Habershon

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Dr John Habershon has spent many hundreds of hours conducting in-depth interviews during his career in consumer and social research. Over the last eight years he has analysed the nonverbal responses captured on video on a wide range of topics, ranging from favorite products and advertising on TV, to bereavement and stress at work. He became involved in work for those on the autism spectrum through friends with Asperger's in the family and has created Emotions Reader, (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/readingemotionssystem) an interactive program with quizzes to help users identify facial expressions. John has a long standing interest in understanding emotions, having gained his PhD on the psychological effects of unemployment at Imperial College, London University. He has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. http://www.momentumresearch.co.uk/

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