Thursday, February 12, 2015

Show No Emotion - it's a Psychological Advantage

The photo above is of American Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza, and what makes it perfect for this post is the look on her face.  She's expressing the attitude of a fighter... non-emotional... fearless.

Compare that with the photo below.  Not only is the businessman expressing extreme emotion (anger), he has raised his fist outside of his body-frame. 
Why is that important?  Well together those features indicate that he's out of control (emotionally)... that he wants to appear bigger than he actually is... and that deep down, he isn't completely confident in his ability to carry out his threat. 
In short his aggressive display is a desperate attempt to trigger fear and submission in his victim.

Below another example of the same thing. This time the gesture is a pointed (stabbing) finger... but once again it's raised outside of his body-frame... which is an indication that the man wants to appear bigger and more threatening than he actually is... and that he isn't completely confident in his ability to actually carry out his threat.

This kind of display is something that's common in all primates - and that includes human beings. 
To understand what I mean, imagine a chimpanzee jumping around, waving its arms and screaming loudly. The chimp doesn't really want to fight (in case it gets injured or killed), so it tries to avoid a confrontation by using big threatening gestures and lots of noise.
However, in this example the man's face is non-emotional, and his pointing (stabbing) gesture is inside his body-frame. These are indications that he is deadly serious. 
This is called a primal threat indicator... and it's something that registers at an unconscious level with people.
So why is a lack of emotion and keeping your arms inside your body-frame so threatening? Well there are three very important reasons :
  • extreme outbursts of anger indicate that the person is out of control... and on a primal level that's considered to be a weakness
  • human beings naturally fear 'the unknown'... so if an adversary shows no emotion, then we don't know what to expect from them
  • a lack of emotion can also be an indication that our adversary is fearless, and therefore a real threat to our survival.

So if you want to create a primal psychological advantage in any kind of confrontation : 
  • show no emotion
  • keep your arm inside your body-frame 
  • and gesture with either a stabbing finger or a bladed hand. 
It's a tactic that has the Presidential seal of approval!
It's Primal Protection.

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