The Truth About Celebrity Body Language Experts

The rule is that 95 percent of everything is crap.  And at least one celebrity blogger has learned that this is particularly true of so-called “celebrity body langauge experts,” who analyze photos of stars on the red carpet.

Since I have almost zero interest in celebrities or red carpets I’m not familiar with Jenni Maier, but it appears she’s a gossip columnist of sorts.  Apparently she has the temerity to doubt a Ph.D who asserts that a photo of Robert Pattinson with his hands in his pockets and mixed expression on his face indicates that the actor is ‘hiding something,’ serious and portentious.  Presumably that something is about either his romantic life or his professional life, because if it turns out he just chewed his fingernails nobody would care.  Shockingly, Maier has the temerity to mock the learned “expert.”   Shouldn’t she be in awe of his credentials?

Well, Jenni Maier is right.  The experts statements are hogwash!  Given that she’s on the celebrity beat, it’s not surprising that she can spot a line of bull when she reads one.  Let’s be perfectly clear about this:  analyzing body language from a single almost never tells you anything of value about a person’s state of mind.  Non-verbal communication is not a snap-shot.  It can only be understood fully when it’s in motion.  Context! Context! Context!  And that’s exactly what single photo leaves out.

Maier jokes about the notion that Pattinson having his hands in his pockets means he has something to hide.  She asks, “his hands?”  Sure, why not?  Given that you have nothing else to go on, that’s as good an explanation as any other.  Without knowing what led up to this action, without being able to see what’s going on around him, without seeing his body language both before and after this shot, any pronouncements are simply exercises of the imagination.  That kind of exercise can be helpful if you’re trying to learn body language, because it forces  you to pay attention to small details, but it shouldn’t be mistaken for truth.

Speaking of truth, I’ll let you in on a little one about celebrity body language experts:  most of them are full of it!   Time and again I see them perpetuating the myth that a snapshot is a reliable source of clues about a person’s inner life.   Here’s the thing:  many of them are Ph.D’s;  they really do know a lot about non-verbal communication.  Unfortunately they ignore a lot of what they know, or at least a lot of what is known, about the subject for the purposes of entertainment. 

Why do they do this?  Money, of course!   Writing about celebrities gets you in the media.  Once you’re in the media, you can plug your courses and seminars.  My suggestion:  treat celebrity body langauge experts with about the same level of seriousness as you do the guy who writes the horoscopes for your local newspaper.  It’s fun and entertainment, nothing more. 





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