Why You Should Learn How to Read Facial Expressions of Emotion

Strong Predictor of Workplace Performance

The ability to read emotions in others and in oneself has proven through research to be the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.

A recent study even suggests people who are in tune with their colleagues’ emotions are more likely to bring home a bigger paycheck than their emotionally-stunted colleagues!


Increased Ability to Detect Deception

Research has demonstrated that when motivated people lie, and there are stakes if they are caught, clues to deception do emerge, and appear as leakage across multiple channels.

The number one channel where this leakage occurs? You got it, facial expressions of emotion. You can read more about this research here.


Alleviates Facial Affect Recognition Deficits in Children with Autism

Multiple research studies have concluded that be using a computerized emotion recognition training program (like MiX), children with autism could improve their facial expression recognition ability.

More information on these research studies conducted can be found here and here.


Reduce Subsequent Crime in Juvenile Offenders with Antisocial Behavior

Researchers in the UK found that boys who improved their ability to recognize fear, anger and sadness in others’ faces were significantly less violent and severe that those who did not receive training.

The study involved 50 boys who had been convicted of a crime. More on this fascinating research can be found here.

Ready to start your emotion recognition training?

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Why Your Dog is Happy to See You

Alaskan Husky - Facial Expressions of Dogs - HumintellIs your dog overwhelmed with joy anytime you walk through the door? There’s a scientific reason behind their excitement, a new study shows, and it’s not just because you feed them.

Researchers at Emory University used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan dogs’ brains for activity when they were shown images of dog faces, human faces and ordinary objects.

The dogs’ temporal lobes lit up “significantly more” when presented with the faces than with the objects. These findings suggest that dogs may recognize both human and dog faces.

Facial recognition causes dog brains to activate in the the same areas as in monkey and human brains, the study found. This is separate from the “reward areas” that would be triggered by anticipation of food.

“What we’re finding with the imaging work is that dogs love their humans-and not just for food,” researcher Gregory Berns told io9. “They love the company of humans simply for its own sake.”

“The existence of a face-selective region in temporal dog cortex opens up a whole range of new questions to be answered about their social intelligence,” the researchers explained, such as whether dogs can understand different facial expressions and whether they can read body language.

This isn’t the first time scientists have explored what makes dogs’ tails wag with excitement when reunited with their owners. A January study that Berns was also involved in found that dogs have a positive reaction to the scent of familiar humans compared with other smells, even those of other dogs.

The results of that study “suggested that not only did the dogs discriminate that scent [of familiar humans] from the others, they had a positive association with it.”

A 2013 behavioral study found that dogs can show when they’re happy to see their owners by lifting their eyebrows. Their left eyebrow went up when they saw their respective owners, the study found. They didn’t have this reaction for other things that may excite them, such as attractive toys.

Coming Soon! APA Handbook of Nonverbal Communication

ComingEditors-in Chief: David Matsumoto, PhD, Hyisung C. Hwang, PhD, and Mark G. Frank, PhD

The Authors of Nonverbal Communication: Science and Applications

The APA Handbook of Nonverbal Communication provides scholarly reviews of state-of-the-art knowledge in the areas of nonverbal communication and nonverbal behaviors. It includes an entire section devoted to new and improved methodologies and technologies that allow for the recording, capture, and analysis of nonverbal behaviors. The primary audience for the book is researchers in the area, as well as by students in graduate-level classes on nonverbal communication or behavior.

The handbook is organized around four broad themes, each of which led to a different section in this volume:

  • The first concerns the history of the field and includes two chapters providing an overview and history of the area, all written by senior researchers with many years of experience.
  • The second concerns the factors of influence of nonverbal communication and encompasses the main theoretical and conceptual frameworks within which research on nonverbal communication occurs.
  • The third theme presents the separate sources of nonverbal communication and behavior and includes chapters on the physical environment, appearance and physiognomy, olfactics and odor, facial expressions, voice, gesture, eye behavior and gaze, and postures, gait, proxemics, and haptics. This section also includes a chapter on nonverbal communication in nonhuman primates.
  • Finally, the fourth theme concerns advances in research methodologies, and includes chapters on the methods for measuring and analyzing facial expressions, voice, gesture, eye behavior, olfactics, body movements, and nonverbal sensitivity.

Now Available for Pre-Order Here!

ICYMI: Can a Photograph Serve as a Reliable Document of Truth?

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Humintell Director Dr. Matsumoto sat down with photographer Kris Davidson for an interview at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco California. Produced for an MFA level documentary photography course, Dr. Matsumoto shares valuable insights on the potential of a photograph to serve as a reliable document of truth.

The Sleep-Deprived Brain Can Mistake Friends for Foes

Photo courtesy of MeditationMusic.net

Photo courtesy of MeditationMusic.net

If you can’t tell a smile from a scowl, you’re probably not getting enough sleep.

A new UC Berkeley study shows that sleep deprivation dulls our ability to accurately read facial expressions. This deficit can have serious consequences, such as not noticing that a child is sick or in pain, or that a potential mugger or violent predator is approaching.

“Recognizing the emotional expressions of someone else changes everything about whether or not you decide to interact with them, and in return, whether they interact with you,” said study senior author Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley. The findings were published today in the Journal of Neuroscience.

“These findings are especially worrying considering that two-thirds of people in the developed nations fail to get sufficient sleep,” Walker added.

Indeed, the results do not bode well for countless sleep-starved groups, said study lead author Andrea Goldstein-Piekarski, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, who started the study as a Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley.

“Consider the implications for students pulling all-nighters, emergency-room medical staff, military fighters in war zones and police officers on graveyard shifts,” she said.

For the experiment, 18 healthy young adults viewed 70 facial expressions that ranged from friendly to threatening, once after a full night of sleep, and once after 24 hours of being awake. Researchers scanned participants’ brains and measured their heart rates as they looked at the series of visages.

Brain scans as they carried out these tasks – generated through functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) – revealed that the sleep-deprived brains could not distinguish between threatening and friendly faces, specifically in the emotion-sensing regions of the brain’s anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortex.

Additionally, the heart rates of sleep-deprived study participants did not respond normally to threatening or friendly facial expressions. Moreover, researchers found a disconnection in the neural link between the brain and heart that typically enables the body to sense distress signals.

“Sleep deprivation appears to dislocate the body from the brain,” said Walker. “You can’t follow your heart.”

As a consequence, study participants interpreted more faces, even the friendly or neutral ones, as threatening when sleep-deprived.

“They failed our emotional Rorschach test,” Walker said. “Insufficient sleep removes the rose tint to our emotional world, causing an overestimation of threat. This may explain why people who report getting too little sleep are less social and more lonely.”

On a more positive note, researchers recorded the electrical brain activity of the participants during their full night of sleep, and found that their quality of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or dream sleep correlated with their ability to accurately read facial expressions. Previous research by Walker has found that REM sleep serves to reduce stress neurochemicals and soften painful memories.

“The better the quality of dream sleep, the more accurate the brain and body was at differentiating between facial expressions,” Walker said. “Dream sleep appears to reset the magnetic north of our emotional compass. This study provides yet more proof of our essential need for sleep.”

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