Overview Of Microexpressions Essay

2137 words - 9 pages

Have you ever watched someone while they speak to you or someone else? Did you notice anything about the way they stand, the pitch of their voice, or the expressions on their face? If you have, you have been viewing body language or microexpressions. Body language is a form of nonverbal communication involving gestures that are made consciously or unconsciously. (Navarro) Microexpressions are very brief facial expressions that last anywhere from one twenty-fifth to one fifteenth of a second whereas a normal facial expression lasts from one half of a second to four seconds. Microexpressions are revealed when a person is attempting to conceal a different emotion than the one they are portraying, whether they are doing it purposely or not.; microexpressions are narrowly recognizable (Ekman). Body language and microexpressions allow humans to communicate with better understanding than simply speaking to one another, but what do certain microexpressions and forms of body language mean and how does oneself detect them?
The discovery of microexpressions was made by Haggard and Issacs, who called them “micromomentary expressions”. Haggard and Isaacs conducted interviews in a psychotherapeutic setting and noticed that microexpressions appeared when a patient did not know what they were feeling, so their repressed feelings came about on their faces as a microexpression. These two scientists realized that microexpressions cannot be viewed in real time, meaning they had to record their interviews and review them in order to read patients’ faces correctly (Ekman). At this point, Paul Ekman and W.V. Friesen elaborated upon the work of Haggard and Issacs and came up with new information. They discovered that microexpressions leaked from a face when there was a deliberate attempt to hid feelings from others and when people have concealed feelings from themselves through repression. However, it is difficult to tell whether a microexpression is a result of suppression or repression (Ekman). Ekman and Friesen constructed a system of which facial muscles were responsible for which expressions and called it FACS, or Facial Action Coding System, which identifies the muscles used to make a specific expression, but not the emotion because certain facial muscles are used to make multiple expressions. Each facial expression is measured in an AUS, or action unit. For example, the bunching of the brow is labeled AU4, and the raising of the brow is AU1. Ekman and Friesen avoided using descriptive terms because it could influence interpretation (Scheve).
In the 1950’s a handful of scientists believed that expressions of the face and gestures of the body were something that was learned socially and varied depending on what culture you were from, but they were incorrect. There are seven universal facial expressions that are common in every culture around the world; they are: happiness, sadness, anger, contempt, disgust, fear, and surprise (Zetter). People often confuse fear...

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