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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 suspects. Bringing a criminal into confessing crime it committed isn't easy because it tries to defend itself from being detected by law and enforcement agency.
 
Investigators and forensic experts have to pick tiniest clues not only at actual crime scene but also right on the faces of people they interrogate or try to get information from.


A micro-expression or micro-momentary facial expression is nothing but movements of different facial expressions that unconsciously occurs within fraction of a second. Just like a macro or clearly detectable facial expressions, micro-expressions give away seven different emotions.
 
A novice or inexperienced observer can overlook micro-expressions because they remain almost undetected by it. By experience and age, people learn to control autonomous facial expressions, movements and gestures by giving away clues about them swiftly.

Who says I'm afraid?
Unlike normal or macro expressions, micro expressions appear and disappear within fraction of a second. Sometimes, expressions are miniaturized to keep them unnoticed by observer.
 
Unlike inexperienced or untrained observers, analysts and experts can instantaneously crack or zoom into micro expressions. Also, they can be monitored while running video clip at lower frame rate or watching photograph.

Micro expressions can bring surprising turns while interpreting body language because they are emotional outlets of actually what somebody tries 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).
 
He and his colleagues have developed a very reliable tool called as Micro Expressions Test Tool (METT) that let you learn and detect micro expressions online. You can test your skills by following this link that takes you to demo test. 

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 confession of murdering his own husband by asking a few serious questions to her. Remember that the devil is in the details.

No need to check time
In social environments, we can see people managing to cope with distressing moments by replacing clearly apparent expressions by their miniaturized versions. A veteran project leader in a software company slightly touches wrist watch but doesn't look at it while addressing to farewell party.
 
Actually, he replaces “hands-crossed-on-chest” posture to defend himself from anxiety of somebody being hurt by his words unintentionally. Even though he doesn't express anxiety on his own face, his body gives away a miniaturized expression of indented posture he unconsciously wants to adapt in front of the audience.

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. Though I passed with ‘Expert’ level, it wasn’t an easy task at all because mood of a person at given moment and movements in own facial muscles can make a great difference.
 
However, my own facial muscles helped me to pass the test. Ability to portray micro-expressions on you own face can give you real edge in identifying them on faces of other people.

My Certificate from HuminTell

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1 comment:

  1. Very short but really nice information! I found that this article holds international ranking.

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