Your Questions Answered By Dr. Matsumoto Part 5!

Thank to you everyone for your overwhelming response to the “Submit your questions to Dr. Matsumoto” post on March 16th. Here are a few questions and answers by Dr. Matsumoto himself!

You can find out more about Dr. Matsumoto and his research at his website

You can read Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 of the series by clicking on the appropriate links.

Q1. Adam L: Why is there no Action Unit #3 in F.A.C.S.? And what does AU #42 mean?

Hey Adam. Actually AU3 exists in BabyFACS, a FACS that is adapted for baby faces. The adult version of that is AU4, but it is left out in the adult FACS because that muscle doesn’t move independently of AU4 in adults. But it exists in kids. I am not sure of any studies that identify the meaning of AU42. I know it has been identified in studies of sleepiness or pain.

Q2. Kyle Stark: Have you noticed any difference in an athlete’s performance when displaying fear nonverbal communication displays such as macro face expressions vs more confident non verbal communication?

Not really. Sometimes I see fear or sadness on an athlete’s face right before competition, but then they turn out just fine in competition. So I began to think that different athletes have different emotions that help prep them for peak performance. Now if you see too much fear or sadness way before competition, like days or months before, that’s not good.

Q3. Oliver Lane:  Do you find any, inspiration or any theories and ideas, from Dale Carnegie’s book “How to win friends and influence people”?

I am not an expert on that book, but know it cursorily. Based on that cursory knowledge I think many of the main principles about the importance of relationships and expressivity are right on and still applicable even today. Maybe especially today.

Q4. Juan Pablo García says: What is your scientific opinion on the physiognomy?

Sorry this question doesn’t make sense to me. If you can you be more specific, I can answer it in the comments section.

Q5. Tim Bubb says: My sociology teacher and I have frequently debated on whether there are any innate parts of nonverbal communication and body language. She is a social constructionist and my belief is that some of it is innate but the vast majority is socialized. I was wondering could you shed some light on that debate?

It is clear to me that facial expressions of emotion, and the physiological emotion system in general, is biologically innate. There are many sources of evidence for this, perhaps the strongest of which are studies of congenitally blind individuals, which cannot be explained by social construction.

Q6. Cristobal says: What is the best way to increase your non verbal awareness? Or to say it another way, to increase your mastery in body language?

Keep practicing, noting behaviors and especially anomalies, and try to find sources that can teach you how to interpret them correctly. There is a growing scientific literature on all of these.

Here’s a blog article that may interest you: Hot Spotting: Practice Makes Perfect

Q7. Tiffany S. says: Do psychopaths have ability to show universal emotions, as we know microexpressions to be? Are they more likely to know when to mimic ‘right’ emotions and mask ‘wrong’ emotions. Are they easier to read in an interview or harder, utilizing microexpression training?

I know of no scientific study of psychopaths and their emotional expressions. However, I have done some reading on psychopaths and have talked to some experts in this field. Based on that I don’t believe that anything about expressions is any different with the psychopaths. Now, they are very different about what events they get emotional about, which is not normal.

Q8. Dan S. says: Why are some FACS codes in parentheses? What does this signify?

Hmm…which ones are you referring to?

Q9. WC says: In your opinion what kind of jobs could you best use this material in aside from the obvious TSA and law enforcement fields?

I would say anything involving face to face interactions. Physicians, lawyers, poker players, therapists, sales, negotiators, etc

8 responses to “Your Questions Answered By Dr. Matsumoto Part 5!”

  1. Thanks for your reply Dr. Matsumoto. About my question (number 4). I mean the discipline called Physiognomy, that supposedly linking the particular physical features of the face (chin large, wide forehead, thin lips, high cheekbones, for example) with the type of personality you possess.

    Has been dismissed as a tool for the analysis of personality, but in my country (México) there are many people who not only believes in this type of analysis if it in fact provides training to learn the discipline.

    What science tells us and what is its scientific opinion on this?

    Thank you!

  2. WC says:

    I would also be very interested in your reply to question 4 Dr. Matsumoto. Juan is talking about a type of face reading that is different then studying micro-expressions. I’ve read 2 books on this, one called Amazing Face Reading by Mac Fulfer, and another one called The Power of Face Reading by Rose Rosetree. I have found this type of analysis to be quite accurate in my personal use. I think if more studies were done, types of body language and types of facial expressions could potentially be matched up with certain facial features to mean certain things….or make establishing a baseline easier if anything.

  3. I believe there is some, but not a lot of research examining the relationship between facial physiognomy and personality. Most recently, maybe a few years ago, I think there was a study or two that examined physiognomy and judgments of competence and likability of political candidates. About a century ago there was also research examining the relationship between body types and personality. However much of this research is dismissed by mainstream psychology. It does serve the basis for what the Chinese call “face reading,” and of course there are many who ascribe to that.

  4. Thank you very much again for your response Dr. Matsumoto.

    I have carefully read your response and I have one last question to clear my doubts:

    Has any scientific validity the physiognomy?

    I appreciate your time and support to answer.


  5. Hi Juan, As I mentioned above, there hasn’t been a lot of research around the relationship between facial physiognomy and personality (that I am aware of). So as far as scientific validity, I don’t think there has been enough research to support the link between facial physiognomy and personality.

  6. I know many studies in psychopathy and I can say that the leading theory is that psychopaths (not sociopaths) have a damaged right-hemisphere amygdala. They are well recorded to not be able to identify the disgust expression and if that is so and current research is still accurate, then this probably means that they cannot feel disgust. Sociopaths are recorded to have deficiencies in the fear expression also.

  7. Tim Bubb says:

    I just realized I never thanked you for your answer. It was instrumental in the debate with my sociology teacher. In fact, she dropped the topic right after this. Thank you very much!

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