Body language expert: 'Lance Armstrong proud of fooling everyone'
While the disgraced cyclist confessed his use of
performance-enhancing drugs up until 2005, his gestures suggest he may
not be as contrite as he claims
Friday 18 January 2013
Lance Armstrong may have finally come clean, but his body language during his tell-all interview told a different story, experts said.
While the disgraced cyclist confessed his use of performance-enhancing drugs up until 2005, his gestures suggest he may not be as contrite as he claims.
Judi James, a body language expert who has appeared on TV shows including Big Brother spin-offs and Strictly Come Dancing, said Armstrong appeared in control of the interview with Oprah Winfrey.
"He was incredibly calm. I don't think it looked like a confessional in the way he played it," she said.
"There were no signals of genuine humility at all there.
"I get the feeling that he was very much in control throughout the interview.
"If you turned the sound down, it was hard to tell who was interviewing who.
"He almost did this for his own benefit so he could get back in control of his life and 'reboot' himself to that strong leadership."
Despite the interview's "no-holds barred" billing, there were clearly some parameters and moments where he either avoided questions or claimed he could not remember, said Ms James.
"Verbally he was a lot more straightforward than the past but there were still moments when he looked uncomfortable and he dodged the questions.
"We didn't get an absolute outpouring of every detail."
Ms James said Armstrong raised both hands in fists, like a boxer, when explaining why he lied so vehemently, while claiming he had "fought back" at people pushing him.
And she said his high crossed legs were a sign of status, not defence: "It's the sort of thing that we keep somebody distant from us because we feel above them.
"He said he has been a bully, and if I was somebody that he had bullied in the past I would be quite scared by what I had seen because it was as though this was a guy who is rebooting his own status."
Robert Phipps, one of the world's leading body language experts, said: "While Armstrong may well have agreed to come clean to her, it didn't really happen, and if it did he remains quite proud of what he has done.
"This was demonstrated numerous times throughout the interview with him showing the micro-expression of contempt by curling only one side of the lip upwards.
"This shows he's actually quite proud of what he managed to achieve in fooling the authorities, the press, the cycling world and the general public."
He said Armstrong's actions often contradicted his words - answering "yes", but shaking his head, indicating "no".
"It was quite obvious from the start that he wasn't going to be that forthcoming as he sat with his right leg crossed over the top of his left leg," he said.
"This is known as the figure four block, as it created an immediate barrier between him and Oprah."
Armstrong also gave "block-off signals" with his hands and arms, he said, while interlocked fingers showing he was withholding answers, and covering his mouth suggested he was not being honest.
"There was also lots of fist-clenching and jaw-tightening, showing his internal stress levels - he was either getting annoyed at the questions, himself or again holding back with the truth," Mr Phipps added.
"In my opinion this was not the truly revealing interview in terms of what he said verbally but was certainly more telling with what he said non-verbally."
Behavioural psychologist and body language expert Jo Hemmings agreed that Armstrong had not necessarily told all there was to tell.
"He puts his hand to his mouth a lot - about 20 times. He sort of almost pinches his lips together with his index finger and thumb when he doesn't want to answer something," she said.
"He plans to make this a very candid interview but there's some bits he is withholding. I think there's a lot more he could tell."
Armstrong's "prayer gesture", when asked if he had doped in his comeback in 2009 and 2010, suggested he could be lying, she said.
"When you push it at somebody else it's just deflecting the truth.
"That's reflection away from the truth, this is a blatant lie."
She said he appeared to be being honest through much of the interview, but may have thought he had dodged the whole truth.
"I think he is very detached from the person he was and struggles sometimes with the answers because he doesn't relate to that period of his life and that person, almost as if he is talking about someone else.
"He did deliver with a certain degree of sincerity but it's easier to be sincere when you feel you are talking about someone else."
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