The Scientific Portal of Behavior, Body Language and Nonverbal Communication#

Search for

July 27, 2013

Know Who is Attracted to You

At some point, everybody wants to know if members of the opposite sex are interested in them or not. Be it male or female, everyone would like to know if someone else is attracted to them. It may not necessarily be to take things forward in a romantic direction but just to know and acknowledge and soak in the good feeling of knowing that you are in demand! I personally am flattered when I receive any Indicators of Interest from the opposite sex, I don’t know about you!

Indicators of Interest: Aren't they easy to understand?

Notice I used a relatively new term: Indicator of Interest. In this case, the interest we are talking about is attraction. The way I look at it, I can tell you the small gestures and subtle indications, but chances are, we will miss them because we were too caught up interacting and thinking about what to say to notice that. Also, I believe in keeping it simple. Therefore, I am going to tell you about two simple indicators for finding out if someone is attracted to you.

What level of attraction are we talking about here? Yes, there may be degrees, very “interested” may mean something else as compared to simply intrigued. You need to go with your gut. The information provided is for moderate interest, where the man or woman would want to get to know you better and you have definitely sparked their interest.

Here it goes:

1) Eyes: It is not a cliche when we say that our eyes are the window to our soul. The first thing you would do if someone you like is around you, is that you would want to look at them. Their presence would make you think of them and that thought makes you look. It happens very unconsciously. Seriously, sometimes people don’t realize how obvious just a simple look is.

If you begin to pick this up, you will see and recognize the difference between someone looking because they are interested and someone just looking around. If someone is looking at you repeatedly, they’re probably very interested, give them a broad confident smile and see what happens!

I call it the dance of the eyes between two people who are interested but not forward enough yet to make a concrete move. Another concept is mutual gaze. Imagine someone close to you looks at you, you look back and take their image in for a while. However, if it is a new person, you avert your eyes faster.

This is because eye contact has a large comfort element attached to it and you will notice that those that are comfortable around each other hold each other’s gaze for a longer time. Look for that and if you find this happening with someone, know that both of you are comfortable with each other’s presence

2) Body Position: Again, what I am telling you about are subconscious signals of interest, which means that those who transmit them are most often not even aware that they are doing it! When somebody is intrigued by them, their body position is going to be effected by yours’. It may not be as direct as someone facing you square, because that would be too obvious.

Here, one needs to look for the subtle. Here is my secret: look where the feet are facing, it is symbolic of where either party intends to move. If you look for this, every now and then you will see that someone is sitting in quite an unnatural position with regard to the rest of the group and they have oriented their body towards a certain person they are interested it.

As a parting note, I will remind you that the major reason people don’t realize someone is attracted to them is because they don’t think that someone would be. It’s so odd, we are a very groovy species and we flaunt and notice more than you think, just tap into your experiences. If you feel someone is into you, believe it! You intuition is a result of millions and millions of years of evolution; you are a perfected machine, that has stood the test of evolutionary time! Do not second guess yourself and most of all have fun!

Mr. Shivam Nemani
The writer is a Body Language Researcher and a Trainer, currently living in Mumbai (India).

His blog URL is

Related Articles:
1) Courtship and Dance 2) Primary Attraction 3) Secondary Attraction 4) Importance of eyes in relationship 5) The Look of Love? 6) Couple in trouble? 7) This is what I (want to) see.

July 20, 2013

The face of Liar(?)

Can you tell if somebody is a (habitual) liar but just looking at its face? Or Are you able to detect lie just by picking single clue that person unconsciously gives away e. g. micro-expression of contempt, particular hand gesture or an averted gaze?

Despite of the classical assumptions, liars don’t have nose like Pinocchio that keeps growing in length as he goes on deceiving others. It’s clear that we can’t (and shouldn’t) can't claim about anybody as liar just by examining its facial features.

I think that most of us would scratch their heads and simply wish to buy or get some kind of high-tech eyeglasses, spectacles or goggles for quickly turning themselves into the master in catching liars after reading symptoms in real time.

If you are asked that who could lie or cheat on you then most probably you would point our finger towards the person you don’t like (by its appearance, attitude, orientation, thoughts or your own bad experience with the person) or who is not in a good spirit with you. Even if the person isn’t indented to deceive us by any chance, we unconsciously jump to pick the same in defending our side i. e. we assume the person as culprit.

On the other hand, we simply wonder or don’t believe if somebody close to us has deceived or tricked us. Personal biases, orientation, likes, dislikes, favoritism, ignorance towards details and intense emotions blindfold us while detecting many lies in the day to day life. Even so-called or self-proclaimed lie-detectors often fail to catch lies and liars in social situations.

Although it's very essential for survival and better functioning of brain too, quality of remaining positive and optimistic is self-deception in the first place because we ignore factual clues. The reason why we consciously ignore them is they discourage us or make us feel hopeless and we can't explore our potentials to fight back or overcome adverse situations.

Behavioral, cognitive and biological deficits and (design) limitations are biggest barriers on the way of way of exploring and getting face to face with truth. We jump or get convinced to believe in something because we simply avoid or can't go beyond our boundaries to search facts.

Lying is very common and widespread trait in human and animal world but detecting lies and liars is not easy. It has been scientifically proved and also experienced by most of us that catching a liar in first attempt of detection is only matter of luck i. e. almost 50% or little more than that.

Like the way I could pick a few recognized nonverbal clues of deception in a perfect cluster during one of my job interviews, only a very few of us are enough lucky to detect lies and catch liars as easily as a wizard.

Being naturally intuitive, women are quite better in catching lies and liars as compared to men. That’s why wives can easily and quickly catch their deceiving or misleading husbands. Men too are good in catching lies and if not - they can become so with systematic and precise training.

Lawyers, investigators, security personals, intelligence and counter-intelligence officers, interrogators and law & enforcement officers need to master in detection of lie because it can make a great difference in lives of many people and perhaps their own. However, if they are trained to catch liars and traitors based upon facial and physical features then it could push entire system into a big trouble.

Stan Walters (The Lie Guy®), the renowned expert in interrogation and analytical interview techniques, shares his deepest concerns about bizarre lie detection classes being run and certificates being offered to aspiring officers. After watching this video (link:, you would definitely ridicule so-called ‘educators’ of lie detection and brush up yourself away of myths.

No doubt that many researchers and experts have done a great job in creating different models and identifying obvious or subtle symptoms of deception - let it be verbal or nonverbal. They might have got success in catching liars and cheaters by applying special methodologies throughout their career.

The world's leading, respected and critically proven Nonverbal Communication expert and my Guru Sir Joe Navarro (retired special agent, Counter-Intelligence Supervisor and Spy-Catcher who served in FBI for 25 years) openly warns that there cannot be a single definitive clue that leads to lie or lairs.

Also, a forced confession is the biggest crime itself so you can imagine that how many innocents might have got punished for crime they never committed throughout the entire human history after implementation of interrogation and punishment.

Definitely, there are two categories of liars. First is bad liars and second is good or white lairs. Bad lairs are inexperienced in convincing others that what they are telling is truth but they are easily caught due to apparent discrepancy or leakage of unconscious guilt or fear. Just a single or few obvious nonverbal and/or verbal hot-spots (significant clues) can easily expose them.

On the other hand, white lairs leave behind subtle clues that remain largely ignored by the most of us thus making them the masters of scandals, scams, con-jobs, frauds and forgeries. Only inability to catch the subtle clues set them free from the Law and Enforcement.

Considering the complexity and dynamics of human brain and behavior, detection of lie becomes hard but not impossible. Only strong belief in truth and ability to find/face it gives all of us immunity against laying and lairs. What about telling the truth? Perhaps, it’s also hard to tell truth because believing in the same is becoming harder and harder in today’s world which has been infested by deception epidemic.

After reading many news, books and articles (including this) about liars and damages they caused to the society, we feel utterly helpless after realizing that we are surrounded by liars, con-artists and cheaters. Other the other hand, most of us assume themselves as a truth telling individuals and also try to portray their truth-telling persona in society.

What about you? Has liar hidden inside you too? Let me tell you a story which has been written in many religious scripts and passed over generations. A preacher finds that people are pelting stone at an adulteress (promiscuous woman) to punish her for committing a moral crime. He allows only those 'good' people to continue punishing her who haven’t committed any crime in their entire lives. Pelting eventually stops because each one of them realize their karma (deeds) in past.

This small story sheds bright light on our common psycho-biological traits. Camouflage, scheming, diversion, deception and cunningness guarantees survival over a certain period like what stripes of zebra or heavy shell of turtle do. Only truth is that all of us have lied at one or other point in our lives till date since childhood for different purposes or reasons whatsoever.

We can’t blame others for lying but only catch them the way experts, truth wizards and natural lie detectors do. There are many ancient, traditional and modern methods of deception detection but we might need to use many of them together to find truth.

Sooner or later truth manifests i. e. lair either confesses the misconduct or pays the price for deception. We all know that castles made up of sand don't last longer on seashore and waves swallow them at last.

Please let me be very clear for once and all that there's no single, definitive or universal body language cue that indicates lying or verbal deception.

Related Articles:
1) Inside Interrogation Room 2) Women are body language experts 3) My career saving lie detection 4) It’s Written All Over You... 5) Analytical Interview: Are HR Professionals ready for it? 6) Are you a 'flying' terrorist? 7) Entire body can’t lie 8) Truth about Lying 9) Baseline 10) Body Language of Extreme Psychopath

July 07, 2013

Recognizing emotional expressions: Scientific viewpoints

It is said eyes are window of the soul but actually entire face convey emotions and psychological state. Reading facial expressions is considered as a pinnacle of emotional nonverbal communication. Not only emotional signals but also physical states and cognition related clues are conveyed by human face. What is science behind this?

Seven basic emotional expressions and
a neutral face (in bottom right corner)

Until we don’t understand different theories and factors related with emotions and their expression, it’s really hard to be able to recognize them in different contexts. Neuroscience and social psychology have great impact on our ability to express and also pick emotional clues from somebody’s face (and body).

Pioneers and their discoveries

Sir Charles Darwin initiated the study of emotional expressions in humans and animals. Through his book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, he gave us a great insight about emotions, their origin and corresponding facial expressions. According to him, emotional facial expressions are ancient remnants of different physiological states that our ancestors might have gone through.

Different facial expressions might have benefited them in past so we kept inheriting them through generations. He believed that nonverbal expression of emotions is species specific and not cultural specific. Darwin emphasized greatly on decoding emotions by detecting combination of movements by different (facial) muscles. He also succeeded in creating codes for muscular movements related with different emotional expressions.

In 20th century, Prof. Dr. Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen traveled to Papua New Guinea to prove ground breaking theory i. e. Universality of facial expressions related to basic emotions. According to them, there are some specific cross-cultural patterns of facial muscular movements corresponding to Fear, Anger, Disgust, Surprise, Sadness, Happiness and Contempt.

They studied and analyzed seemingly primitive population which was totally cut off from modern world. Despite of geographical and cultural isolation, those preliterate people expressed emotions on their faces in almost same way other people do in their own cultures. Moreover, people from other cultures could easily pick emotions on faces of Papua New Guinean people. Indeed, it was an amazing discovery.

Advantageous Expressions and Facial feedback

According to later theorists, expressions related with difference emotions might have offered us three distinct advantages during social interaction: honest communication, deceptive communication and regulation of emotions by through facial feedback.

A) Honest communication of emotion in which facial expressions are result of genuine neurological (or limbic) processes that take place when we’re exposed to sensory stimulus. Honest emotional communication is crucial for survival of any creature and not us. It alters physiological symptoms involuntarily and guides to act or behave according to reflexes that guarantee or multiply opportunities of survival.

For example, if our ancestors wouldn’t have run away after watching a tiger approaching them then they would have died or got seriously injured. Even today, if a child doesn’t omit distasteful thing out of its mouth by making disgusted face then probably it would pose harm to child.

B) Deceptive communication is mode in which sender tries to mislead receivers about its true psychological state. It definitive would have given certain advantages to our ancestors throughout evolutionary history. For example - a leader of tribe portraying anger on his face could derogate sub-ordinates and kept them under control without engaging into physicality and wasting energy.

We experience that a child can easily draw attention of her mother through fake weeping. However, deceptive emotional expressions can easily be detected because they are not congruent with context.

C) Emotional regulation by controlling facial expressions helps us to alter the severity of emotional perception. On the other hand, conscious movement of facial muscles can induce same emotion in mind of subject (the person who does it) and other people. In one experiment, it has been found that people who controlled painful expressions felt less pain as compared to those who let their faces express pain in natural and uncontrolled way.

Social or polite smile is a good example of facial feedback theory because it helps in creating favorable environment for person who initiates it. There's no surprise that a smile is the most commercially capitalized aspect of the overall body language.

It’s highly observable that we tend to express both genuine and fake emotions more intensely in presence of other people as compared to solitary mode. We need receivers or audience for conveying our psychological states because expressing them would be useless and wastage of energy in absence of people.

On the other hand, we also try to conceal true emotions or mask them by expressions of more socially acceptable emotion as part of display rules that are either inherited or learned.

Related Articles:
1) Basic Emotional Expressions 2) Body Language Brain 3) Micro-Expressions 4) Is learning micro expression really useful? 5) Emotional expressions are manipulated 6) Botox hampers emotional awareness 7) Facial Feedback: World smiles with you! 8) Should leaders show emotions? 9) Are you a 'flying' terrorist?