Overview of Microexpressions

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Have you ever watched someone while they speak to you or someone else? Did you notice anything about the way they stand, the pitch of their voice, or the expressions on their face? If you have, you have been viewing body language or microexpressions. Body language is a form of nonverbal communication involving gestures that are made consciously or unconsciously. (Navarro) Microexpressions are very brief facial expressions that last anywhere from one twenty-fifth to one fifteenth of a second whereas a normal facial expression lasts from one half of a second to four seconds. Microexpressions are revealed when a person is attempting to conceal a different emotion than the one they are portraying, whether they are doing it purposely or not.; microexpressions are narrowly recognizable (Ekman). Body language and microexpressions allow humans to communicate with better understanding than simply speaking to one another, but what do certain microexpressions and forms of body language mean and how does oneself detect them?
The discovery of microexpressions was made by Haggard and Issacs, who called them “micromomentary expressions”. Haggard and Isaacs conducted interviews in a psychotherapeutic setting and noticed that microexpressions appeared when a patient did not know what they were feeling, so their repressed feelings came about on their faces as a microexpression. These two scientists realized that microexpressions cannot be viewed in real time, meaning they had to record their interviews and review them in order to read patients’ faces correctly (Ekman). At this point, Paul Ekman and W.V. Friesen elaborated upon the work of Haggard and Issacs and came up with new information. They discovered that microexpressions leaked from a face w...

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