It Pays to be able to Read Emotions, Literally.

7-2-2014 2-44-38 PMA recent study out of Germany suggests that one’s ability to read emotions in others may have a direct correlation to how much you earn.

In a study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, researchers looked at emotion recognition ability and tested and measured it along with other interpersonal skills such as how socially astute they were, their networking savvy and how seemingly trustworthy they were in 142 German workers.

High emotional recognition was linked to a higher salary, even after controlling for salary-bumping factors like age, gender, education, work experience and work hours.

“This very basic ability has effects on the interpersonal facilitation facet of job performance and, most notably, even on annual income, an objective indicator of career success,” the study authors wrote. “The better people are at recognizing emotions, the better they handle the politics in organizations and the interpersonal aspects of work life, and thus the more they earn in their jobs.”

So just how good are you at reading emotions in others? Humintell offers a full suite of products to help improve your emotion recognition ability!

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The History of Microexpressions

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A microexpression is a brief involuntary expression of emotion.  They usually occur when an individual experiences a strong emotion but tries to conceal his/her feelings.  They may also occur because a person experiences multiple emotions in rapid succession.  Unlike normal facial expressions, it is difficult to voluntary produce or neutralize microexpressions.  They can express any of the seven emotions universally expressed in the face:  disgust, anger, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise and contempt.  They can occur as fast as 1/15th to 1/30th of a second.

The History:

Microexpressions were first discovered by Haggard and Isaacs (1966).  In their study, Haggard and Isaacs outlined how they discovered these “micromomentary” expressions while scanning motion picture films of psychotherapy hours, searching for indications of non-verbal communication between patient and therapist.

At around the same time, Condon and Ogston (1967) pioneered the study of interactions at the fraction-of-a-second level.  In Condon’s famous research project, he scrutinized a four-and-a-half hour film segment frame by frame, where each frame represented 1/25th of a second.  After studying this film segment for a year and a half, he discerned interactional micromovements, such as the wife moving her shoulder exactly as the husband’s hands came up, which combined yielded microrhythms.  Condon’s work, however, did not focus on facial expressions.

Subsequently, Ekman and Friesen (1969, 1974) included the concept of microexpressions in their studies of deception.  The results of this work were reported in the book Telling Lies (Ekman, 1985), and were popularized in the mass media through the television series Lie To Me.  They also play a central role in Robert Ludlum’s posthumously published The Ambler Warning, in which the central character, Harrison Ambler, is an intelligence agent who is able to see them [microexpressions].  Similarly, one of the main characters in Alastair Reynolds’ science fiction novel Absolution Gap, Aura, can easily read microexpressons.  On Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Detective Robert Goren was adept in detecting microexpressions.

Although the existence of microexpressons was reported in the 1960′s, the first report published in a peer-reviewed, scientific article validating their existence was Porter and ten Brinke (2008).  And, the first report published in a peer-reviewed, scientific article about tests of the ability to recognize microexpressions was Matsumoto et  al.’s (2000).

Some studies have indicated that the ability to read microexpressions is indeed related to the ability to detect deception; ironically, the most recent studies suggest that the ability to read subtle expressions (expressions of low intensity), not microexpressions, are better related to the ability to detect deceit.

References Cited:

Condon, W., S,, & Ogston, W. D. (1967). A segmentation of behavior. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 5, 221-235.

Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1969). The repertoire of nonverbal behavior: Categories, origins, usage, and coding.     Semiotica, 1, 49-98.

Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1974). Nonverbal behavior and psychopathology. In R. J. Friedman & M. Katz (Eds.), The psychology of depression: Contemporary theory and research (pp. 3-31). Washington, D. C.: Winston and Sons.

Haggard, E. A., & Isaacs, K. S. (1966). Micro-momentary facial expressions as indicators of ego mechanisms in psychotherapy. In L. A. Gottschalk & A. H. Auerbach (Eds.), Methods of Research in Psychotherapy (pp. 154-165). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Matsumoto, D., LeRoux, J. A., Wilson-Cohn, C., Raroque, J., Kooken, K., Ekman, P., . . . Goh, A. (2000). A new test to measure emotion recognition ability: Matsumoto and Ekman’s Japanese and Caucasian Brief Affect Recognition Test (JACBART). Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 24(3), 179-209.

Porter, S., & ten Brinke, L. (2008). Reading between the lies: Identifying concealed and falsified emotions in universal facial expressions. Psychological Science, 19(5), 508-514.

7 Proven Tactics to Read Body Language

We all send body language cues based on how we feel and what we think. Here’s how to decipher them quickly and in any situation from Business Insider!

Alia Atkinson’s Surprise


 Swimmer Alia Atkinson shows a great expression of surprise after she claims gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke at the 2014 World Short Course Swimming Championships in Qatar. The win made Atkinson the first black female swimmer to claim the world title. Congratulations!

Babies, Memory, and Positive Emotion

3435206192_c2b9c66f0a_zOf the many new experiences that infants have each day, which ones will they remember? A new study entitled “The effects of exposure to dynamic expressions of affect on 5-month-olds’ memory” published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development suggests that infants are more likely to remember a unique geometric shape whenever a positive emotion accompanies it. The study is the first of it’s kind to explore how emotion may influence infant’s memories.

Researchers from Bringham Young University monitored infants’ eye movements and measured how long the babies look at a particular image.

More of the study is described below, taken from an article on Medical Daily written by Susan Scutti:

“To begin their experiment, the researchers enlisted the help of a group of mothers and their 5-month-old babies. The mothers set their infants in front of a monitor. Then, a person appeared on the screen. The person spoke to the baby in either a happy, neutral, or angry tone of voice, and immediately following this, the babies saw a novel geometric shape materialize on the screen.

After this “emotional exposure,” the researchers proceeded to test the babies’ memories. Five minutes after the test, some of the babies saw two side-by-side geometric shapes: a brand new one, and the original one from the study. Here, the researchers recorded how many times the baby looked from one image to the next and also how long they spent looking at each shape. One day later, the researchers conducted the same test with the remaining babies, monitoring their eye movements as they showed them the two images. What did they discover?

The babies performed significantly better at remembering the novel shape when it was attached to positive voices. Following the 5-minute interval, infants exposed to the happy voice showed a “reliable preference” for the novel geometric shape compared to the previously unseen image. The infants who heard a neutral or angry voice did not show this same preference. After the one day interval, though, infants exposed to both the happy and neutral voice showed a reliable preference for the novel geometric shape. However, paired with a negative voice, the shape did not stick in their memories.

“We think what happens is that the positive affect heightens the babies’ attentional system and arousal,” said Dr. Ross Flom, a BYU psychology professor and lead author of the study. “By heightening those systems, we heighten their ability to process and perhaps remember this geometric pattern.”

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