Scientific Portal on Body Language, Kinesics, and Nonverbal Communication#

Facial Feedback: World smiles with you!

It's very well said that 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. Smiling secretes a hormone called as Endorphin inside brain 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.
Smile enhances your face value.
According to Sir Charles Darwin and Dr. 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. Once you generate facial expressions on your face consciously; others are likely to respond in similar ways.
Japanese are trained to smile like westerns.
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 - fake smiling). Feedback from others in form of smiles, easiness, interest, or comfort displays would lead to positive feelings in your mind. Falling into a loop of initiation and feedback, your mental state starts to change. Sooner or later, you would start to portray a genuine smile unconsciously.

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 factors in daily life.

Facial feedback to smile is natural and widely used in commercials. It's not surprise that we find faces in various entities around us or also draw faces on own.

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Learning micro expressions is 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, 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, we now 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 the Army Research Institute and the Office of Scientific Research of Air Force. 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 a 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 Study 2, 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 in international scientific community.

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

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