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Hidden Signs of Emotions – The Microexpressions

Facial expressions – microexpressions – are brief, involuntary signs that can reveal a person’s true emotions, even if they are trying to hide them. These expressions usually last for less than a fifth of a second and can be difficult to detect without training.Hidden Signs of Emotions – The Microexpressions

Microexpressions were first studied by psychologist Paul Ekman, who created the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). He discovered that there are seven microexpressions that are universal, meaning that they are recognized and understood by people across cultures. These 7 signs are:








The ability to recognize and understand facial expressions can be useful in many different fields, such as criminology, every day life, and business. For example, detectives can use this skill to detect deception in suspects, therapists can use it to gain insight into their patients’ true feelings, and salespeople can use it to gauge the effectiveness of their pitch. Microexpression recognition can also be used in human resources to identify emotions in job interviews, in customer service, and in negotiations.

How can you detect microexpressions?

To detect facial expressions, it’s important to pay attention to the eyes, mouth, and eyebrows. The eyes can reveal if a person is feeling sadness, happiness, or surprise. The mouth can indicate if a person is feeling disgust or contempt. The eyebrows can indicate if a person is feeling anger, fear or surprise. It’s important to keep in mind that a microexpression may not always be visible, and sometimes you may need to look for subtle cues such as twitching of the eyes or slight changes in the muscle tension of the face.

Hidden Signs of Emotions – The Microexpressions


Microexpressions are only negative

One of the main misconceptions about microexpressions is that they only indicate negative emotions, such as dishonesty or deception. In reality, microexpressions can also reveal positive emotions, such as happiness, excitement, or interest.

Microexpressions are always conscious

Another misconception is that microexpressions are always conscious and controlled. In reality, microexpressions are often unconscious and reveal the true emotions of a person, even if they are trying to hide them.

Microexpressions are easy to spot

Some people believe that microexpressions are easy to spot and that anyone can recognize them with minimal training. In reality, microexpressions are often brief, lasting only a fraction of a second, and can be difficult to detect without training.

Microexpressions are always reliable

Microexpressions are just one aspect of nonverbal communication and should be considered in conjunction with other verbal and nonverbal cues.

Practical examples

Job Interviews: During a job interview, we’d better display microexpressions of confidence, interest, and engagement. This can be achieved by maintaining eye contact, smiling, and nodding in agreement when appropriate.

Communication & giving lecture: In general, it’s important to be aware of the microexpressions that indicate honesty and responsibility, such as openness, interest, and confidence. Keep an eye contact with your audience and keep a calm voice tone so that you maintain their interest. Avoid signs of anxiety or not being confident, therefore don’t frown and keep your face muscles calm.

During negotiations: Try to show confidence, engagement, and openness. This can be achieved by maintaining good eye contact, smiling, and nodding in agreement. Try to avoid drooping your lips which conveys negativity or disagreement.

Facial expressions should be used in conjunction with other verbal and nonverbal cues to convey honesty and responsibility. 

Additionally, microexpressions can be influenced by cultural and individual differences. Therefore, one should be sensitive to them when interpreting microexpressions.

Once you’ve detected a microexpression, try to interpret it correctly. This is where training and practice come in. One way to practice interpreting microexpressions is to study photographs of people displaying different emotions and try to identify which emotion is being displayed.

Micro- and facial expressions are a complex aspect of human behavior, and they are influenced by a variety of factors such as culture, social norms, and individual differences. Misunderstandings and misconceptions about microexpressions can lead to misinterpretations and mistakes. The best way is to gain proper knowledge and training to understand and use them correctly.

Books suggestions:

P. Ekman: Emotions Revealed – Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life

This book provides an in-depth look at the science behind microexpressions and includes practical techniques for detecting and interpreting them.

P. Ekman: Unmasking the Face: A Guide to Recognizing Emotions From Facial Expressions

This book explains how to identify correctly the basic emotions and how to tell when people try to maks, simulate or neutralize them. It also features several practical exercises.

B. Fairbanks: How to Analyze People: Reading People, Body Language, Recognizing Emotions & Facial Expressions

This book reveals how you can detect if someone telling lies using facial expressions and nonverbal cues.



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