Mark McGwire Body Language Analysis

For those that are baseball fans, Mark McGwire recently did an interview with Bob Costas admitting his steroid use during his career.

There have been various videos analyzing McGwire’s body language, facial expressions and demeanor.

Take a look below to see the videos and Dr. Matsumoto’s comments.

At around 3:40, McGwire does a sniffle with contempt.

Jennifer Rigdon is accurate when she describes the characteristics of buccinator movements. However, at 2:55 the reporter asks her about McGwire’s level of eye contact and lack of blinking. Rigdon suggests that this perhaps may be because McGwire is trying to control his emotions because he is lying. However, I disagree with her analysis. McGwire is actually doing a very subtle eye-lid tightener, which is either anger or concentration.

At 1:45 after the clip of McGwire is shown, Rigdon suggests that the paralinguistic cues indicate that he is defiant. However, the audience should know that there is no data to back up what Rigdon suggests here.

At 0:48 after the clip of McGwire discussing Tony LaRussa, Rigdon suggests that he does what she calls a “miserable smile” and suggests that he may be hiding something. This make absolutely no sense. McGwire is emotional – sad – and is trying to control it (as most people would in that situation). I would speculate that McGwire feels very bad about keeping LaRussa in the dark for all this time regarding his steroid use.

Please note that this video regarding McGwire starts around 3:20.

Fernandes’ analysis starts at around 1:25 when she says that McGwire is uncomfortable and that he looks “coached”. She even goes on to compare him to how Bill Clinton acted when he was speaking about Monica Lewinsky.

However, there is no reason for McGwire to be concealing anything at this point. He is admitting to doing wrongdoing, which is an obviously emotional process for him. He is genuinely emotional, shows lots of sadness and anger (which is understandable). His emotions probably have a lot to do with the distress and guilt he may feel about being interviewed and admitting his wrongdoing.

What do you think? Feel free to post a comment.

6 responses to “Mark McGwire Body Language Analysis”

  1. Markus says:

    As pointed out in the comments to the video, he has no reason to conceal anything, so i dont think his feelings are directed at someone else. I agree with Joyce Fernades, that his emotions are directed towards himself. It seems like he might be ashamed and angry of himself for doing this. He says my “parents found out yestersday and my SON found out yesterday”. He emphasizes my SON. Imagine being a father and have his son look up to to him and being proud to have a professional baseballplayer as a father. Now his reputation is ruined and he might feel like he has brought unnecesary pain and sufferering to his son and the rest of his family.

  2. Sander Budding says:

    I sad this earlier on another blog and I agree with you. I don’t find the comparison fair at all. This is what I earlier said:

    “Yes indead, it’s logical he’s nervous. You also don’t have to be an expert to see that. I don’t believe he’s lying (some logical hot spots, not more), and she doesn’t say that he’s lying. She only refers to Clinton, maybe she sugest that she’s lying. In my opinion she should not make that comparison, onless she tells direct that he’s lying.

    January 14, 2010 3:43 AM”

  3. The buccinator movement to me is simply a form of “self-censoring” and frustration. He is thinking of saying things and as he changes his thoughts, he is expressing it in his cheeks. He is holding himself back, as he thinks what he is about to say, he changes his mind. It’s no contempt in any form.

    I agree that the the focus on McGuire is “concentration”. Right on!

    I rarely find a body language expert who I feels truly understands the people they are dissecting. It’s so frustrating for me!

  4. Dr. Matsumoto,

    I like this type of analysis where a video is posted and there is time for us to view and interpret it, and then get your thoughts. For me, it helps me assess where my interpretation was correct and where it was incorrect so I can focus on improvement.
    I hope and encourage you to do more of this.

    Kind regards,
    -mike.

  5. Kyle says:

    I was shocked the first body language expert name dropped ekman because ekman (and everyone else) is always harping on how emotion doesn’t equate lying. The guy is on national TV and has been heavily scrutinized for the last 5 years and is personally taking the fall for an entire era of baseball. Of course he’s going to be sad, angry and uncomfortable as you’ve already pointed out.

    The only thing I do disagree with is he does still have things to hide even though he’s coming clean…protecting others including Tony LaRussa…from a logic standpoint I find it shocking TLR didn’t “know”. Tony has been around the game a long long time. If McGwire confesses that TLR knew the entire time then TLR will have problems getting into the Hall of Fame also. Personally I don’t care either way, I’m just saying as a teenager back then even I knew what was going on….

    Jose Canseco, on the otherhand, says that steroid use was widely known and accepted.

    Does anybody pickup anything in this video besides contempt?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4819250

    @eyes: I was hoping to see your name in
    the comments.
    @mike: why hit play on the videos without reading? That’s what I do.

  6. CerebraliNTEL says:

    I too am new to this field and enjoy these posts. In many instances they help substantiate my interpretation. In other I can read others interpretations and learn new clues I may not have picked up on.

    Thank you for providing this forum!

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