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October 26, 2012

Facial Feedback: World smiles with you!

It's very well said that if you smile in then the whole world smiles with you. We all experience that smiling (irrespective of a genuine or fake smile) faces are more liked that neutral, sad or angry faces because smiling makes us feel better at the very core of our existence.

Smiling secretes a hormone called as Endorphin inside our brains that generates happy feelings and also reduces level of stress hormone Cortisol and Epinephrine (secretion from Adrenaline gland). Hence smiling at each other generates a positive feedback loop.

According to Sir Charles Darwin and psychologist William James’s Facial Feedback theory, we can generate same emotional effect through volunteer movements of facial muscles. As like unconsciously or involuntarily expressions induce feedback in minds of other people, volunteer facial expressions and gestures too can achieve same at a certain degree.

Smile enhances your face value.

Once you generate expressions on your face consciously, others are most likely to react, respond or reciprocate in the similar way unconsciously. Giving a facial feedback happens quite automatically most of the time, outside our conscious control, all the time.

This theory applies for smiling too and we widely witness it. More you smile at people in appropriate situations; more often you would get similar feedback from them. If you cannot portray a genuine smile, start smiling politely (in other words - faking a smile).

Feedback from others in form of smiles, easiness, interest, or comfort displays would lead to positive feelings in your mind. After entering into a loop of initiation and feedback, your mental state starts to change. Sooner or later, you would start to portray a genuine smile, almost unconsciously.

Chinese Air hostesses are trained
to grin with the help of a stick.

It’s an innate survival mechanism we all have that allows us to connect with each at deeper psychological levels and feel our existence (more meaningful) by seeking feedback from others. We can find trails of feedback principle in many practical and conceptual aspects of our daily lives.

Facial feedback to smile is very natural and it's widely used in commercials. It's not at all surprising that we find faces in various entities around us or also we draw faces on different types of surfaces.

Surprisingly, a smile is the most commercially capitalized aspect of the overall body language.

Related Articles:
1) Why we copy each other's body language? 2) Secret behind imitation 3) Face to Face 4) Social Footsteps 5) Botox hampers emotional awareness 6) Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints 7) Chicken and Egg Paradox

October 13, 2012

Is Learning micro expressions really useful?

For years, we have been hearing about the importance of micro expressions when it comes to recognizing emotions accurately. Ever since the 70's Prof. Dr. Paul Ekman began his groundbreaking research in this area, there has been an intense debate about training and developing an ability to recognize micro-expressions.

Following several articles published in media emphasizing of micro-expression training, there are many other that raised contradictions. Therefore, here I present a very interesting article.

Micro-expressions (Courtesy: Dr. Paul Ekman)

The research was conducted by two professors of social psychology namely Dr. David Matsumoto and Dr. Hwang Sung at the State University of San Francisco, United States of America. Another interesting factor was that the investigation by the university was funded through a grant from United States Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (USARI) and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).

This work is notable because it presents scientific evidence of the effectiveness of training to improve the ability of emotional recognition through micro-expressions.

In the first study, several people belonging to sales profession participated in a conference in which they were given basic knowledge on emotional recognition. These people were divided in two groups. One of them received an additional training session 60 minutes by a trainer experienced.

This group was compared with the other one that received no additional training. The results showed an ability to recognize micro expressions significantly higher in the group of additional training in comparison with the other group.

This finding was particularly notable for two reasons:

1) Both groups were equivalent in their knowledge of emotions because both received basic information on emotional recognition. However, one group received additional training workshop and other did not.

2) The impact of the training program not only demonstrated in emotion recognition tasks but also produced significant social and communication according to an assessment by third participants two weeks after the program.

The results of the "Study 1" were further reinforced by the results of the "Study 2" that demonstrated the effectiveness of the training program after a period of time after training.

In the second study, participating lawyers and psychologists split into created two groups. First group received training in recognition of micro expressions and another did not.

Three weeks later, a test was conducted for trained group and untrained group for comparison. The trained group was significantly better in emotional recognition than the other. Moreover, they responded to emotions faster i. e. response time (latency).

These findings are important because they show that people can be trained in recognizing micro expressions and also same capacity can be retained over time.

The authors says in their conclusion that that the scientific evidence presented in these studies provided the evidence necessary for those interested in understanding the emotions of their partners.

If you interact daily with other people and want to understand them better, training in recognizing micro expressions is a very interesting option to consider.

Undoubtedly, this research was very important for international scientific community.

[This article is translation of the original article "Entrenamiento para reconocer emociones a través de las microexpresiones, ¿ayuda o pérdida de tiempo?" written in Spanish (Español) by my friend and a nonverbal communication researcher Prof. Dr. Rafael López Pérez from Universidad Camilo José Cela, Madrid (Spain).

Just like facial expressions in body language, facial micro-expressions have been a great subject of research, especially through behavioral forensic and psycho-analytical perspective.]

Related Articles:
1) Basic Emotional Expressions 2) Micro Expressions 3) Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints