I am a self confessed geek when it comes to all things emotion and part of that is recognising emotion when it is occurring within others. You can often spot it reliably with expressions on the face as well as hear it in the voice, see it in the body or notice what someone is saying.
So today I saw the video embedded below, which is a snippet of an interview with Aziana Stewart and the BBC and it got me. It got me for a few reasons:
1) To see the waves of emotion(s) that she goes through
2) The speed at which the emotion(s) come
3) How hard she works to hold it together
Please watch the video below, it is only 1:19 long.
For me, the easiest emotion to spot is the sadness that she openly displays through her tears and facial expression. There are reliable muscle movements in the universal expression for sadness and I have lifted a still image from the video to show it at it’s peak. You will also notice that she is really tense around her mouth and is using a number of muscles to create that tension.
What I am also interested in are what other emotions may be present here. It is rare for emotion(s) to happen purely in isolation and here I think we have another one that features a few times. Go back and watch the video again and have a think about what you think it might be.
Ok, here’s my take.
I think the other emotion most present is fear. In particular around the 1 minute mark. At that point you can hear an audible breath in and there is a raising and flattening of the eyebrows and widening of the eyes. Here is a picture I have lifted, again from the video.
It is not as pronounced as the sadness and seems to be present all the same. It reappears (in a less intense expression) over the following few seconds. Contextually it makes sense as she is talking about how she may never be able to play basketball for her country again.
I do need to make some caveats.
1) I do not know what led up to this short clip as it has been edited and the person that did the editing has chosen what they want the audience (me) to see. I say the emotion came quickly and when if I was to look at what occurred before, it may have been building already. I think you can start to hear the sadness in her voice at seconds 5-10 and she seems to compose herself for a short time.
2) The interviewer uses evocative language that contrasts with Aziana’s. During seconds 11-17 she talks about holding a flag high for women and men’s basketball. This is then contrasted by the interviewer responding with ‘that is some axe to hold over your head’, so we have moved from a flag to an axe over the head. This language (deliberately chosen or not) may well have had a role in the expression of emotion that follows.
3) I do not truly know what was happening for Aziana or specifically what triggered the emotion. I can see emotion, hear emotion and I don’t truly know why, all I can do is hypothesise and guess, as I do below.
I left this video with a strong sense that this lady desperately wants to play basketball for her country and she may lose the chance to do so and ‘loss’ is the universal trigger for sadness. Also, there is a real threat of harm (universal trigger for fear) to her identity and role as a basketball player. I truly hope that the team achieve the goals they need as this lady seems to truly care about it.