Ara (L) and Megan reacting similarly upon hearing their names announced as winners.
I’ve always had this mild fascination with the reactions of beauty pageant winners upon hearing the announcement of their names (or countries represented) as victor/s of the competition. While I would have wanted to write about the subject many moons ago, it took the suggestion of reader Y. Chang and the photo of Ara and Megan above to finally sit down and post my thoughts on the same.
Reactions of randomly-selected Miss Universe winners from 1976 to 2012
Gloria Diaz and her reaction
What is it with the reactions that make us want to know how they really feel deep inside? Is there a significant difference between the reaction of someone who is already anticipating a win and another who doesn’t expect the top prize? Are the winners still conscious of their poise when expressing how they really feel or does it depend on the personality if one will let loose her facial expression or control the same to maintain an air of queenliness? More importantly, what message do the winners want to put across with their victory gestures?
Believing that there is correlation between a crowned beauty queen and a gold-medal winning athlete, I consulted a Sport Psychology article by Joshua Wortman where he stated the following and I quote,
“Many athletes react with some sort of gesture after earning a victory, like throwing up their arms or clenching their fists. These victory gestures were formerly lumped into the official emotion of “pride.” However, a recent study published in Evolution and Human Behavior suggests that victory gestures are conveying signals of triumph, not pride. Little research has previously been conducted on triumph as an emotion and new research suggests that triumph may be an emotion after all…”
In the same post, David Matsumoto*, a professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University, stated that “Triumph has its own signature expression that is immediate, automatic and universal across cultures. One of the biggest differences between triumph and pride can be seen in the face…When someone feels triumphant after a contest or challenge, their face can look quite aggressive. It’s like Michael Phelps’ reaction after winning the 2008 Olympics. It looks quite different to the small smile we see when someone is showing pride.”
So there. The language of reactions from athletes does not differ that much with pageant winners. The message conveyed is triumph more than anything else. It could be triumphant surprise, triumphant covering of mouth, triumphant crying expression on the face, triumphant widening of the eyes, triumphant opening of the mouth in a ready-to-scream mode or triumphant grace while still exuding poise. Triumph could also be vividly seen in Kevin Balot’s body language before, during and after she was named International Queen 2012. Watch below.
courtesy of tigerpattaya
And so now, you know what the twin reactions of Ara Arida and Megan Young mean. It’s triumph of having conquered them (the other candidates) all. ;-)
* – David Matsumoto is a renowned expert in the field of microexpressions.