Lying: I do it, you do it, we all do it. However, can you tell if someone else is lying? Can you tell if someone is hurting but trying to cover it up? Well, according the new Fox television series Lie to Me and the studies of a professor by the name of Paul Eckman, “microexpressions” betray us when we tell lies. A microexpression is a split second involuntary facial expression that briefly reveals the emotion that you are trying to suppress. Although these flashes of hidden expression only happen for a brief moment, they are unmistakable. There are seven universal emotions that reference microexpressions: anger, disgust, sadness, happiness, fear, contempt, and surprise are the common emotions that are expressed similarly by people. According to various studies, the average person lies about three times during any 10 minute conversation. In other words, people lie a lot. So, does the use of microexpressions help you answer questions like: Is my boyfriend/girlfriend unfaithful? Does my professor really dislike me? Is he/she into me?
Honestly, it takes years of training to become consistent at reading the faces of others. Humans are complicated, but research shows that we all learn to express those basic seven emotions in the same fashion. This theory was put to the test by studying blind people. Since they never visually learned how to express certain emotions, researchers in the field concluded that some expressions are inherent wsrather than learned. No matter what our backgrounds or affiliations, we all have common emotional states, which is one of the many commonalities that connect us as human beings.
However, microexpressions only reveal a brief emotional state that may or may not be related to the current conversation. It is the job of the person reading the expressions to figure out the meanings behind them. This is one of the reasons why microexpressions work extremely well under intense situations. Situations where people are under pressure often reveal more truth. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” Nevertheless, these studies prove that human emotions are an incredibly powerful force that drive our everyday interactions with the people around us.
Becoming a human lie detector may sound like an interesting ability; in spite of this, we all have our reasons for lying. Whether we are protecting a loved one, covering for a sibling, ashamed of the truth, or just up to no good, we all lie for different purposes. We can sometimes tell when our friends and family members lie.
Our instincts tell us when we are near danger or not. Imagine having specially trained employees at every airport with the ability to read faces. This skill could be a great preventative measure in order to ensure our safety. Although microexpressions may be difficult to see, the power of our brains may use them in attempts to keep us from harm’s way.