The Many Faces of LeBron James

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A lot can be learned from one’s facial expressions. True empathy can be seen on one’s face. Pain, sadness, suffering, happiness, love and confidence are emotions that are worn on one’s face.

If you think about it, it’s kind of a strange thing. Our emotions are in our brain. There are chemical reactions that determine the way our brains tell us we feel. Somehow those feelings translate into a universal language of facial expressions. Even if I cannot communicate via words with another, we can read each other’s facial expressions and at least have a general idea of how we are feeling.

There is a beautiful insight into this phenomena demonstrated by analyzing the hebrew word for face. The word used for face in the Torah is פנים (pronounced pah-neem). This word shares a root with the word בפנים (pronounced beef-neem). This word means “inside”. It is not a coincidence that these words share the same letters. The face gives clues as to what the person is feeling and thinking “inside”.

This is something that the video game L.A. Noire tried to bring to its game. The game featured real facial expressions that reflect the thoughts and feelings of the actor. It was revolutionary and I might say, fairly succesful. The characters in the game seem more human and more emotive than any character in any other video game ever created. (See a demonstration here: Kotaku.)

The Atlantic has a fascinating slide show depicting LeBron James’s facial expressions during the NBA Finals. It is interesting because the criticism of LeBron’s performance in the Finals is about his heart, his determination, his confidence. These things can be measured on a person’s face.

Have a look for yourself: The Atlantic