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What is Body Language

A facial expression is one or more motions or positions of the muscles on the face. These movements convey the emotional state of an individual. Facial expressions are a form of nonverbal communication. They are a primary means of conveying social information among humans.

Humans can adopt a facial expression to read as a voluntary action. However, because expressions are closely tied to emotion, they are more often involuntary. It can be nearly impossible to avoid expressions for certain emotions, even when it would be strongly desirable to do so. Micro-expressions are one example of this phenomenon. The close link between emotion and expression can also work in the other direction; it has been observed that voluntarily assuming an expression can actually cause the associated emotion. Some expressions can lead to anger and extreme contentment.

Because faces have only a limited range of movement, expressions rely upon fairly minuscule differences in the proportion and relative position of facial features, and reading them requires considerable sensitivity to same. Some faces are often falsely read as expressing some emotion, even when they are neutral, because their proportions naturally resemble those another face would temporarily assume when emoting.

In retrospect, your own body language reveals your feelings and meanings to others, other people’s body language reveals their feelings and meanings to you.

Eye contact

A person’s face, especially their eyes, creates the most obvious and immediate clues that lead to the formation of impressions.

A person’s eyes reveal much about how they are feeling, or what they are thinking. Blink rate can reveal how nervous or at ease a person may be. Research by Boston College professor Joe Tecce suggests that stress levels are revealed by blink rates. He supports his data with statistics on the relation between the blink rates of presidential candidates and their success in their races. Though Tecce’s data is interesting, it is important to recognize that non-verbal communication is multi-channeled, and focusing on only one aspect is reckless. Nervousness can also be measured by examining each candidates’ perspiration, eye contact and stiffness.

Eye contact is another major aspect of facial communication. Some have hypothesized that this is due to infancy, as humans are one of the few mammals who maintain regular eye contact with their mother while nursing.[4] Eye contact serves a variety of purposes. It regulates conversations, shows interest or involvement, and establishes a connection with others.

Eye contact regulates conversational turn taking, communicates involvement and interest, manifests warmth, and establishes connections with others…[and] it can command attention, be flirtatious, or seem cold and intimidating… invites conversation. Lack of eye contact is usually perceived to be rude or inattentive.
But different cultures have different rules for eye contact. Certain Asian cultures can perceive direct eye contact as a way to signal competitiveness, which in many situations may prove to be inappropriate. Others lower their eyes to signal respect, and similarly eye contact is avoided in Nigeria, and between men and women in Islam however, in western cultures this could be misinterpreted as lacking self-confidence.

Drawing Facial Expressions

Drawing facial expressions can be one of the most terrifying challenges for new artists. We look at faces every day; indeed faces are what we focus on the most when trying to understand someone else’s emotions. However despite this familiarity, drawing faces is a challenging task.

Infant Facial Expressions

Soon after birth, babies are already capable of imitating the emotional expressions they see on the faces of others. In one study, infants only 36 hours old showed evidence of imitating an adult’s expression. In another experiment, mothers showed their 10-week-old infants expressions of happiness, sadness, and anger. In many cases, the babies responded to these expressions by copying them, mirroring back their mothers’ expressions of happiness, sadness, and anger.

Face Overall

The face as a whole indicates much about human moods as well. Specific emotional states, such as happiness or sadness, are expressed through a smile or a frown, respectively. There are seven universally recognized emotions shown through facial expressions: fear, anger, surprise, contempt, disgust, happiness, and sadness. Regardless of culture, these expressions are the same. However, the same emotion from a specific facial expression may be recognized by a culture, but the same intensity of emotion may not be perceived. For example, studies have shown that cultures tend to rate images of facial emotions as less intense This difference can be explained by display rules, which are culture-specific guidelines for behaviour appropriateness.

Sign languages

Facial expression is used in sign languages to convey specific meanings. In American Sign Language, for instance, raised eyebrows combined with a slightly forward head tilt indicate that what is being signed is a yes/no question. Facial expression is also used in sign languages to show adverbs and adjectives such as distance or size: an open mouth, squinted eyes, and tilted back head indicate something far while the mouth pulled to one side and the cheek held toward the shoulder indicate something close, and puffed cheeks mean very large. It can also show the manner in which something is done.

  • Surprise
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Disgust
  • Sadness
  • Concentration
  • Confusion
  • Contempt
  • Desire
  • Excitement
  • Empathy
  • Flirt
  • Frustration
  • Glaring
  • Happiness
  • Love Snarl

Interesting Facts

Nicholas works on Facial Expressions and Psychology.

  • The average person tells three lies per conversation.
  • The truth is written on all our faces.
  • The question is if somebody is lying and why is that person lying.
  • Here’s what can mean that a person is lying: the eyes twitch, the chin goes up, person brakes eye contact, some people make more eye contact when lying.
  • Bleak eyebrows means sadness.
  • You itch your nose when your hiding something.
  • Person’s nervousness is also indicated by them having their hand down in their trouser pocket, pressed against their leg.
  • When you roll up your sleeve your tense and nervous.
  • For a lying person it is hard to tell the said story backwards.
  • If there is wrinkling around the eye its real.
  • In a fake smile there is no eye wrinkling.
  • During intense fear your hands get cooled.
  • When somebody’s speech is tired its causing a barrier that’s a sign of anxiety.
  • I brows up and eye balls down – that’s not a sign of lying.
  • People touch there neck when lying.
  • Biting nails – lying and nervous.
  • When people don’t believe there’s no reflectors. Meaning they don’t react.
  • When you’re chin drops your angry.
  • When somebody answers to a question they don’t like there likely lying and they might be frustrated.
  • A gratitude smile means your happy but up to something.
  • There are many ways to detect if people are lying but the most important thing is why are they lying.

Written by Nicholas Gill