Showing character emotions – even more research sources – Part 3

(Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here.)

Putting the last touches on body language research:

The ChangingMinds website is a repository of learning about all forms of persuasion and influence.

I’m using the website, which, in its mission to help people understand each other and change each other’s minds, has a wealth of information about emotions and all their interconnections, ramifications, and implications (* and ** – examples below).

Because novelists participate in the job of helping people understand each other, I have found this website invaluable for developing characters.

Betrayal, trust, anger, and guilt form a subset of emotions which at this point in the novel are relatively minor – Grant’s infraction is a mistake, with no intentional malice, made innocently in conversation.

But later in the novel, the concept of betrayal, and especially purposeful deception, are paramount.

How Andrew views deception is important, how he deals with it more so. How willing he is to grant a second chance, to review the actual events, to give a supposed friend the benefit of the doubt, is an underlying theme.

So it’s worth spending the time to learn – and to get the body language right.

I gather bits of body language (these are from various places on

Hand gesture: A hand with palm down may figuratively hold or restrain the other person. This  can be an authoritative action (‘Stop that now’)

Flared nostrils; mouth flattened or clenched teeth bared; jutting chin, red face. (anger)

Add it all together with the micro-expressions (Part 2, scroll down):

Conveying the character emotion includes actions, expression, words. In the pov character, observing these creates an emotional reaction which may be cogitated on – or simply observed – or lead to a flash of thought.

Bianca notes that Andrew usually manages to control his emotional responses, but can get heated when he is passionate about something.

Now all I have to do is to take all that research, and finish writing the end of 11.1 (Andrew) and the beginning of 11.2 (Bianca). [Note: most of the writing finished 8/7/2013]

I don’t want to spoil the scenes for the reader, so I’ll link here once the scenes are posted to the Pride’s Children tab and you can read them on the blog. Then you can tell me if the body language works for you.

Too much work? Maybe. But I don’t know how to do it any other way – relying on my own intuition gets too repetitive.



Betrayal and control

There is a paradox of control and trust. Trust leads to ceding of control, yet wielding of that control can lead to the loss of trust and, ultimately control. When others who we have trusted betray the trust we have placed in them, it destroys our sense of control and hence our trust.

A typical response to betrayals is to grab back control in order to protect oneself and also to punish the other person. A betrayed person typically seeks justice, and in doing so places themself in the control positions of police, judge and jury.

There is distinct potential for an extreme response to betrayal, which acts an encouragement of those to whom others have ceded control to refrain from breaking that trust.

Personal values also discourage betrayal, including the general ‘golden rule’ of ‘do to others as you would have them do to you’. Social norms and cultural rules act to support trust and provide legitimization for restoration and punishment after a betrayal. This not only allows the betrayed person from grabbing back control but also encourages other to engage in the corrective activity.

The operation of many relationships and workplaces can be understood through the locus of control and the dynamics of trust and betrayal. We cede control to employers but then lose trust in them as they seem not to care for us. This can lead to parent-child patterns, including sulking, spite and other dysfunctions in the relationship.




The most immediate effect of the betrayal of trust is in the emotional impact on the person betrayed. Generally speaking, the greater the trust that you had put in the other person and the greater the impact their betrayal has on you, then the greater the distress you will feel.

A number of different emotions may be felt upon realizing you have been betrayed. The most common is anger although, depending on the situation, you might the fear of loss of the relationship and repulsion at the lack of integrity of the other person.

Loss of trust

When you are betrayed by someone, it is highly likely that you will not easily trust them again. Trust is fragile and can be lost instantly or there is a hysteresis whereby a long-earned trust may be eroded and then suddenly lost.


When a person feels that they have been betrayed, they may well seek some form of justice, putting right (at least for them) what they feel has been wronged, including their sensibilities.

Note that justice and fairness are different things and vary with context. From a personal view, justice means ‘making me feel better’. From a national view, it means carrying out the law, no matter how unfair this may seem.

So don’t get into these situations!! If you betray someone, it is often best to come clean. Accept responsibility for personal failure and personally apologize. Demonstrate how you will fix process failure, and offer compensation.

The alternatives to these recovery actions may cost you much more.

Note: A small betrayal can, in fact, actually help. The way it works is that you fail in a relatively unimportant way, then go overboard in recovery. The message sent is ‘we care so much about you even for the small things (so just imagine how much we care about the bigger things)’. Done well, it can actually increase loyalty. Of course it should not be known that you are deliberately doing this.

Comments welcome and valued. Thanks!

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