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Susan Boyle. Why was her performance so surprising in “Britain’s Got Talent”?

By Prof. José Manuel Petisco Rodríguez

Regional Director of Spain

Susan Boyle Magdalane born in 1961 in the small town of Blackburn, West Lothian (Scotland). His parents were Irish immigrants and had many descendants.

Susan is the youngest of nine children and was born when her mother was 47. As revealed in her autobiography (“The woman I was born to be “), the faith of her mother saved her life when she was still in gestation and doctors advised her to abort because they feared had physical complications. But her mother, Bridget Boyle, flatly rejected the advice because she was “a devout Catholic”. Susan was born by Caesarean section in a complicated delivery, so she was briefly deprived of oxygen and probably therefore attributed mild brain damage, and was diagnosed with learning disabilities. They came to comment that the girl would not achieve much in life. It seems that what she really suffered from, said in her day the same Susan Boyle has Asperger syndrome.

Asperger syndrome or Asperger disorder is a brain development disorder that involves a set of mental and behavioral problems. It is part of the autism spectrum disorders. Affected individuals have a normal appearance or even above-average intelligence. They have a particular cognitive style, and often have special abilities in restricted areas showing difficulties in social interaction and communication of varying severity, as well as activities and interests in areas that are usually very restricted and stereotypical in many cases.

But Susan surprised the world when she appeared in the “British Got Talent” program. However, few know that this was not the first time Susan had attempted to publicize her talent, and that had not been taken seriously in any of the occasions.

Susan started singing when she was 12 years old; she used to sing in choirs and school concerts. In 1984 she appeared for the first time on camera with the song “I Do not Know How to Love”. However, by her appearance, was not taken seriously.

In 1995 again attempt to get noticed on TV, but she was mocked and humiliated by the presenter and “comedian” Michael Barrymore.

Finally in 2009, at age 47, Susan Boyle surprised half the world with her performance in the third season of the British television show “Britain’s Got Talent”, singing I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle

Before her performance, the audience and the judges, based on their appearance, appeared to express skepticism about his ability to sing. Instead, her voice was so outstanding that immediately received a standing ovation from the audience, drawing to itself the votes of the judges.

She faced a cruel audience judged in principle, again, just for their looks and age. But was surprised by her voice, her boldness and her claw.

But why her performance was so surprising?

Today we know that the appearance has a huge influence on the impressions we form of others. All deduce lot of information from the image of another person. First we selectively perceive information that is to the naked eye (in the case of Susan’s rude, crude and unsophisticated way it looked then). After infer personal characteristics based on these selected signals (e.g. be clumsy, have small capacity, low intelligence, etc.). Then we infer other attributes Susan (such as thinking you cannot have a beautiful voice). And from then act accordingly (in this case with irony, skepticism, cynicism and disbelief).

If you watch the video of that competition, when Susan tells her age appears clear disbelief in one of the judges, answered by the gesture of safety and claw Susan (hand on hip and waddle); you can also see gestures of strangeness with eyebrows down movement, a clear gesture of contempt (one of the judges was watching his colleague snorting); gestures and laughter in the audience and the judges denoting disbelief in respect which Susan can have a nice voice; a mocking smile and gestures of public concern (fingers hands in contact with the lips).

But the beauty of the voice of Susan immediately surprised all present and left a jaw-dropping for the judges. From there comes the applause and gestures of satisfaction and joy occur between jury members, gestures denoting the judges gets exciting, gestures of pleasure and wellness. The intensity of emotions is increasing and both, the public and the judges, stands up. One of the jurors unconsciously puts his hands opened around her face (gesture called “hands-on cradle”), which indicates that you are in a pleasant state of being, desire and bloating. It is a gesture of offering that comes to tell us something like “I stay surrendered to your feet.”


Susan Boyle, despite prejudice, took the opportunity to offset the suffering and contempt suffered for years.

Boyle was touched and surprised by the standing ovation and the reception of the judges after hearing her. She left the stage, after retiring completely excited, sending a kiss to the public.

After that performance Boyle shot immediately to worldwide fame and in less than half a year sold nearly 10 million copies of their first album worldwide.

Thanks to this incredible performance, Susan finally managed to fulfill the dream of being a professional singer, and yet, such a drastic change does not generate any change in her personality. That personality of a sensible woman became apparent again when she started to moan at the time in which they gave their triple platinum album, shortly after starting her career.

And is that humans are many times extremely unfair and we create negative impressions by the appearance of people, but as an old maxim says “never judge a book by its cover”.

Author: José Manuel Petisco.

PDT: if you value appropriate to make a video blog address here left two of the videos that I have on this subject on my youtube channel (I have edited it and have permission to down and put them on the blog).

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