Your Questions Answered By Dr. Matsumoto Part 6!

Thank to you everyone for your overwhelming response to the “Submit your questions to Dr. Matsumoto” post on November 5th. 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

Want to read some past “Ask the Expert” blogs? We’ve linked them below for your

Chris:    “What is the difference (in purpose, in the way of recognize) between the sad micro/subtle expression, and the reject emblem ( AU 15,17) , also called the “upside down U mouth”

DM: For one, the emblem will have a stronger AU 15 and 17, whereas the intensity of 15 and 17 in sadness is typically not that strong. There will also be timing and symmetry differences in the AUs. But please also note that these are my observations, as to me knowledge there is no study that has directly measured the emblem and compared it to sad expressions

Dexter Miksch:    “Hi sir, I was wondering how long does it take someone (on average) to attain an expert level ability to read and interpret micro and subtle facial expressions? Also, how does the ability to read and interpret micro and subtle facial expressions compare to the ability to read and interpret body language when used for deception detection and trying to figure out what a person is really feeling?

DM: Takes only an hour or two to go through our MiX or SubX courses. But that’s just the start. I think one needs to practice it in real life and get comments from experts. So it can be a lifetime of learning! With regard to deception detection I think the face is a channel with more payoff than the body, but that’s relatively speaking, because the body is also important and the face is not 100%.

Cesar: “Is FACS used as evidence or proof in some courts in the world to detect lies? If it’s not be the case, what is the procedure to use the analysis of microexpressions as lie detectors in court?”

DM: I do not believe or know about a situation or case where FACS or the use of micros or any NVB has been cleared for use in the court system. Interestingly the polygraph is also not accepted in the court system. Both, of course, are incredibly important investigative tools.

Olga: “Have you heard of any successful usage of the ability to read micro- and subtle facial expressions in mediation, and if no, can this knowledge/ ability, in your opinion, make somebody be more successful as mediator?”

DM: I am not aware of published data, but one of our affiliates, Andy Boughton, is a mediator/negotiator, and I would bet that the ability to read micros and subtles would help make one a better mediator.

Olga (2): “I’m very interested in being able to “read” people using all possible kinds of nonverbal communication, i.e. not just facial expressions, but also body language, their choice of words, analyzing their voice, etc. I have recently purchased your book “Nonverbal communication”, although haven’t started reading it yet. However, I assume that this book tells exactly about all this. Could you recommend any other books about this topic?”

DM: Our book focuses on the NVB part of NVC, which is a larger topic domain. There are lots of popular books about body language out there, but few are based on scientific facts (which is why we did ours). I am not aware of any good books on the other aspects of NVC.

Qie Bob: “I’ve watched the American television series call “Lie to me”. In the show, Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) and his colleagues in The Lightman Group accept assignments from third parties (commonly local and federal law enforcement), and assist in investigations, reaching the truth through applied psychology: interpreting microexpressions, through the Facial Action Coding System, and body language. What is your opinion about the show & is it right that this study can be applied in situations like in the show portrays?”

DM: The show was great for highlighting the science we do, but in terms of the accuracy of what it said in relation to actual tells of deception – well let’s just say the show was good entertainment while it lasted. But yes, the science can and is actually being applied in exactly such situations.

Juan Pablo: “Contempt is the only unilateral expression. Does it make the display of emotion on either side of the face or no influence at all?”

DM: Sorry I am not sure I am understanding exactly the question so I will guess. Contempt can occur on either side of the face. There have been no studies as of yet that show why it would occur on one side but not the other. I have some hypotheses about that but they are just speculations at this point.

Camille: “Have studies differentiating between the types of manipulators (face vs. body touching, scratching vs soothing, etc)  in relation to deception been published?”

DM: Not to my knowledge. I know of some deception research in the past that focused on manipulators, but I don’t think they actually compared different types of manipulators.

Camille: “Can a micro or subtle smile (AU 12 alone) be called “duping delight” in the absence of AU6 in your opinion?”

DM: Yes. Because a micro can show a part of an expression, a micro of a smile may not include AU6.

Chris: “what do you thing about synergology???”

DM: To tell you the truth I had no idea of what this is so I googled it and found that it is a term coined by a group working in NVB in Europe. Don’t know the specifics, but it seems like they are in the same field but have decided to call it something else. Other than that sorry don’t know very much so don’t have an opinion.

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