What are micro-expressions and what do they tell us?

Body language and facial expressions tell us more than we think

What are microexpressions and what do they tell us?

As a writer, I have to pay a lot of attention to the little things about people as I build characters for my stories. One important rule to writing, as any writer can tell you, is to “show don’t tell”. To do that, we have to use body language and facial expressions a lot in our descriptions of a scene.

That’s where microexpressions and microexpressions are handy to be aware of. Along with body movements or poses.

While researching more on body language, I stumbled across some interesting information. Did you know all people share in the universal expression of seven emotions – anger, contempt, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise? That is to say that all of us make the same facial expression for these emotions. Who knew?

man in white dress shirt wearing black framed eyeglasses

The more interesting thing, however, is that even congenitally (born that way) blind people make the very same facial expressions as sighted people. Wow. How is that possible? I would have guessed that we mimic facial expressions according to the people around us as we are growing, but this bit of information blows that away.

The second piece of interesting information about facial expressions is microexpressions. They reveal those same seven emotions listed above without us even realizing we feel those feelings at that time. I confess I’ve never heard about this.

According to David Matsumoto (professor of psychology) and Hyi Sung Hwang (research scientist), microexpressions are “expressions that go on and off the face in a fraction of a second, sometimes as fast as 1/30 of a second. They are so fast that if you blink you would miss them”.

woman in black crew neck shirt

Basically, microexpressions are signs of concealed emotions (knowingly or otherwise). Those tiny muscles in our face give us away. Thankfully, they occur too fast for most people to see or recognize them in real time. Some things should be kept private, right?

What is the takeaway here? You never know who can read those macro or microexpressions that are giving you away. Yet, at the same time, if you’re being honest in what you’re saying, does it really matter? No matter what the true emotion is that you’re expression, at least it’s honest and authentic.

Thanks for visiting my blog and happy reading!

Inspirational quote:

_“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”—_Dr. Seuss

Book Recommendation/suggestion:

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

I read this several years ago (before it became a movie), but it was an excellent book. It’s never too late to discover a “new” old book. Enjoy.

Water for Elephants

Blurb from Goodreads: An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons.

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