Our Gestures Often Betray Us

The article above in Spanish was recently published in A Tu Salud Magazine. A rough English translation of the article is below:

Our gestures often betray us: As much as we try to disguise our intentions or feelings, we project microexpressions: involuntary movements of our face that reveal what we hold deep and try to hide at all costs .

Fractions of a second beyond the human eye, but easily caught by cameras because technology is now able to detect those tiny and quick facial expressions that reveal pursed lips , wide eyes that reflect fear or scrunching  of the nose  showing disgust.

Thus, some experts have created programs that analyze the 44 facial muscles and are great tools in detecting lies. This software, is so helpful that agents of American law have been involved. “There are programs that are being promoted as useful to capture criminals by reading their faces. [However,] only reading this part of the body can not exhaustively determine who is a criminal, whether or not they committed a crime or are thinking about committing a crime, explains Joe Navarro, a former FBI counterintelligence agent specialized in the area of nonverbal communication . These programs are created to detect stress in the face or concealed emotions, [however] these emotional leaks are not themselves indicators of deception , because there is no single behavior that indicates [that], Navarro added .

Meanwhile, Mark Frank, a researcher at the University of Buffalo (USA ), which has worked on the facial expressions of people in pressure situations also notes that this type of work and the results have influenced the training of law enforcement .

More than just a behavioral screening tool, they [the experts trained in microexpressions] can determine what to delve into deeper to find out the truth. Therefore it is useful to law enforcement because “It helps them decide which questions are to be asked to get more facts and which can then be compared with other evidence .

For David Matsumoto , a professor of psychology at San Francisco University of California (USA ) , the use of nonverbal behavior as a tool to penetrate the personality, motivation and intentions of individuals, especially those with hostile intent or who are lying, can be very useful in all cultures. In fact, in his research in nonverbal behavior especially microexpressions has aided the U.S. Department of Defense.

Several programs, such as METT , SETT (developed by the pioneering psychologist in the study of emotions and their relationships with the facial expressions , Paul Ekman ) and MiX Elite/SubX Elite (David Matsumoto ) serve as training for signs of facial expressions of emotion [that flash on and off the face very quickly and are expressed in his stakes situations].

Individuals download a  program , showing faces  that do not reflect any expression [neutral] and suddenly a snapshot of a particular  gesture is displayed for a fraction of a second and the individual must identify emotion was displayed. In the case of METT , if the character is angry, for example, it is reflected across his face (very quickly).  The SETT and SubX trainings, are even more complex , they only show the partial expression (i.e. just the eyes, or just

Frank adds that programs are not catching criminals themselves, but help to better read the signs of subtle emotions on others to better understand and interact well with them and get to the truth.


Navarro, a former FBI agent, however is more skeptical, this software ignores the rest of the body. It noted that these programs only consider the face, and there , as Navarro points out in his latest work, ” Clues To Deceit ” there are over 200 signals that help us in detecting stress, and most of them are not micro expressions, and they are observed in other parts of the body as well.

Even Paul Ekman , who coined the term microexpression, affirms in his books that they [microexpressions] are a single behavior that is indicative of deception, but are signs of distress especially hidden emotions.

Matsumoto agrees that I believe that the behavior does not verbal is one of the best tools. I do not think I have a unique opportunity to catch criminals, but rather a combination of techniques and tests that greatly enhance the research.

For the former FBI agent, Navarro, the best way to identify and intercept criminals remains the classic physical observation by a trained professional . Look for signs such as excessive sweating , agitation , facial expressions,  heavy smoking , dress , etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © Humintell 2009-2018