Guide to Reading Microexpressions
Learning how to decode the face is like having a super power.
The face is the window into the soul–if you know how to read it. The good news is we can already tell a lot about someone by their face.
The Face of a Leader:
Look at these faces of CEOs, can you tell which ones are the most profitable?
In this study by Nicholas Rule and Nalini Ambady, researchers asked participants to rate these CEO’s based on their picture. Their ratings accurately correlated to the amount of profits the CEOs made. Answers: J. David J. O’reilly (Chevron), G. James Mulva (Conoco Phillips), C. H. Lee Scott Jr. (Walmart).
How to Read A Face:
Knowing how to read and interpret microexpressions is an essential part of understanding nonverbal behavior and reading people. Here is my brief guide to understanding the microexpression.
A microexpression is a brief, involuntary facial expression that is shown on the face of humans according to the emotions that are being experienced. Unlike regular pro-longed facial expressions, it is difficult to fake a microexpression.
There are seven universal microexpressions: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise, and contempt. They often occur as fast as 1/15 to 1/25 of a second.
The face is the best indicator of a person’s emotions. Yet, it is often overlooked. Dr. Paul Ekman, whose research is the premise of the show Lie to Me, has done groundbreaking research on decoding the human face. He has shown that facial expressions are universal. In other words, people in the US make the same face for sadness as indigenous people in Papa New Guinea who have never seen TV or movies to model. He also found that congenitally blind individuals—those blind since birth, also make the same expressions even though they have never seen other people’s faces.
Ekman has designated seven facial expressions that are the most widely used and easy to interpret. Learning to read them is incredibly helpful for understanding the people in our lives. If you want to practice reading people’s faces, it is important to know the following basic expressions. I would recommend trying the following faces in the mirror so you can see what they look like on yourself. You will also find that if you make the facial expression, you also begin to feel the emotion yourself! Emotions not only cause facial expressions, facial expressions also cause emotions.
Identifying the microexpression is only a piece of the puzzle. We want to help you understand each of the expressions, specifically the science behind each emotion.
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