Body language expert analyzes Armstrong's confession



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Posted on January 18, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 7:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Lance Armstrong's confession to Oprah Winfrey is creating a buzz across the country, with people analyzing his every word in the interview. But what about the things he didn't say?

Concordia University Assistant Professor Philip Hohle said he was surprised at Armstrong's response, his body language and really just the fact that he sat down with Oprah altogether.

Hohle studies the art of apologia, or apology rhetoric. So KVUE decided to watch Armstrong's interview with Hohle and get his take on it.

"I think he's doing a pretty good job, certainly better than Tiger Woods," said Hohle.

One thing that stood out to Hohle in the interview, was when Armstrong said he justified taking testosterone because he had testicular cancer.

"He is saying there's a reason for it," Hohle said. "He was very cautious of using that in an apology because he knows we're not going to read it that way. But he's helping us understand why he would do those things."

But even more than what is said in the interview, Hohle said he noticed what was not said.

"What I'm seeing in his body language is 'I know I'm guilty but please take it easy on me.' He's not trying to defend himself, he's no longer in denial," Hohle said. "If you notice very carefully, he is very nervous and he is breathing very hard."

In fact, Hohle said Armstrong's body language comes across as honest and human.

"I do believe from his body language and from what he's saying, I think he is expressing sorrow in a genuine way. Is there more hidden yet? Probably. But again, he's measuring out to protect himself along this long fall."

Hohle believed the fact that Armstrong chose to speak with Oprah was telling in itself.

"Why not have a press conference where you can control what is said?" Hohle questioned. "I think it's remarkable that he would come right to someone like Oprah to do this apology. If he is successful in this strategy, if Oprah blesses him, he will be on his way to recovery? If not...he still has a long way to fall."

Hohle said this interview puts forgiveness in the hands of the viewer.

"When can we restore him back to this community? And it won't be because he deserves it, it will be because we decide to give him the grace to be back. Back in Austin, back into Livestrong, back into cycling, whatever it may be," Hohle said.