Reading Emotions: Impatience and Discomfort

Guy is listening to an upsetting item on the radio, which is making him feel uncomfortable. He wants it to end, he’s impatient for it to end.

How do we recognise discomfort? When we feel emotionally discomforted it can be like a physical discomfort.

We first see him covering his mouth with his thumb and narrowing his eyes in a defensive gesture. We then see Guy move around in his seat as if trying to get more comfortable. He blinks and then resorts to closing his eyes, as if he is trying to shut out the world.

The restless actions in raising his hand and shifting in his seat reveal his impatience. He sighs whilst compressing his lips, then ends by looking down with his head propped in his hand, grudgingly accepting he has to listen to the end.

Signs to note

  • holds his thumb over his mouth
  • purses his lips and narrows his eyes
  • closes his eyes
  • shifts position in his seat
  • pulls his mouth to the side
  • compresses his lips and sighs

To see stills on this emotion visit our website:

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, ( 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.

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