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December 31, 2011

Reading Body Language - Micro Expressions

Lie to Me (the world famous TV serial) made common people aware about how ability to detect tiniest movements of facial muscles could bring dramatic turn while interrogating the suspects. Bringing a criminal into confessing crime it committed isn't easy because it tries to defend itself from being detected by the law and enforcement agency.

Exactly like the crime investigators, forensic experts and criminal profilers pick, photograph and document the tiniest clues from the place crime took place, interrogators have to do the same by picking tiniest expressions from faces of people they interrogate, question or try to get information from.

A micro-expression or micro-momentary facial expression is nothing but the expression of different emotions that unconsciously occurs within fraction of a second. Just like a macro or clearly detectable facial expressions, micro-expressions convey what is being suppressed by an individual.

With experience and age, people learn to control autonomous facial expressions, movements and gestures by giving away clues about them momentarily. A novice or inexperienced observers can and do overlook micro-expressions because they remain almost undetected by untrained eyes.

Who says I'm afraid?
Unlike normal, macro and subtle expressions; micro-expressions do appear and disappear within fraction of a second on human face, from 1/25 to 1/5 of a second. For inexperienced or untrained observers, it's close to impossible to pick the micro-expressions.

Analysts, experts and interrogators who are expert in picking them can instantaneously crack or zoom into micro-expressions in real-time. Also, micro-expressions can be monitored while running a video clip at lower frame rate or watching a photograph.

Micro expressions can bring surprising turns while interpreting body language because they are emotional outlets of actually what somebody is trying to suppress or hide from others. Learned and volunteer control (cortical control) still let their trails appear as much as for 1/4 fraction of a second as per pioneer emotion and facial expressions scientist Prof. Dr. Paul Ekman (University of San Fransisco, United States).

Did she kill her husband?
Experienced interrogators and lie detectors mostly rely on micro expressions because smart liars can confidently claim that ordinary people easily believe in. In a real incident, a suspected woman was arrested for the murder of her husband.

During the police interrogation, she boldly claimed, "I really don't have any idea about him. I hope that he'll come back very soon". However, she unconsciously gave away a subtle clue that as ordinary individual would have ignored and wouldn't have ask any serious questions to her.

While claiming the same, she turned her face contemptuous, just for fractions of a second. If she really cared about her husband then why she expressed disrespect (towards him) in the first place? Experienced interrogators would sense that something must have gone wrong in their relationship.

Expert interrogators could have possibly get her confession of murdering his own husband by asking a few serious questions about their relationship status to establish her motive. Hence it's always worth remembering that the devil is in the details.

In May 2013, I got a certificate from Humintell for completing facial micro-expression training and passing the final test with 93% percent of accuracy. Although I passed with ‘Expert’ level, it wasn’t an easy task at all because the mood of an individual at given moment and the ability of moving own facial muscles can make a great difference.

Therefore, I can assert that my own facial muscles helped me in passing this test in the very first and also a single attempt with the greater accuracy. Ability to portray micro-expressions on your own face can give you the real advantage and the edge in identifying them on faces of other people.

My Certificate from HuminTell

Are you good at picking micro-expressions? You can test your skills by following this link that takes you to a demo test. The test is also available below. Try yourself and know your score. Taking this test on a desktop computer is highly recommended.

Related Articles:
1) Body Language Brain 2) Clusters 3) Congruence 4) Proxemics 5) Context 6) Para Language 7) Postures 8) Facial Expressions 9) Hand Gestures 10) Challenges 11) Interpretation 12) Baseline 13) Perceptual Bias 14) Is learning micro expression really useful? 15) Nonverbal Clues of chess players 16) Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints 17) Blind Sight is enough to pick emotions 18) Are you a 'flying' terrorist? 19) Basic Bodily Clues

1 comment:

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