4 Types of Facial Micro-Expressions That Aid in Reading Faces

By  //  November 11, 2021

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Although no two human faces are alike, it is interesting that people’s facial expressions fall under some specific categories that express their feelings and emotions. Those who know how to read peoples faces will vouch for it. The face is the best indicator of the kind of emotions people usually go through, which indicates their feelings.

Although it needs a lot of practice and training to read faces, it is heartening to note that the task might not be as challenging as it seems because research shows that facial expressions are universal. For example, the facial expression for sadness is the same or people from the US as that of the indigenous people of Trinidad and Tobago who might not have ever seen a television show that could influence their facial expression.   

In this article, we will talk about some common facial expressions that people typically exhibit and that are easy to interpret.

1. Expression of surprise

To express surprise, anyone would raise their eyebrows that look like bows and stretch the skin below the brow. Eyelids are wide open so that the white of the eye is visible above and below. Horizontal wrinkles become prominent on the forehead, jaws drop open, and the mouth slightly open without stretching or tension. 

Since the eyes are wide open, observers can look the direction in which the vision is leading so that they can easily understand the cause of surprise. The expression bears marks of trustworthiness because people widen their eyes and raise their eyebrows when accused of tallied lies despite speaking the truth.

2. Expression of fear

When people feel scared, they raise their eyebrows which move close to each other and form a straight line. The forehead wrinkles show up at the center of the eyebrows, and although the upper eyelid remains raised, the lower one is drawn up and tense. The upper white of the eyes is visible, but the lower white is invisible.  The mouth is slightly open, and the lips are somewhat tense. Sometimes the lips might be drawn back and stretched. 

There is some logic behind the expression. When we are scared and open our eyes wide, it increases our field of vision to see any nearby threats. The expression is similar when we express shock and disbelief.

3. Expression of disgust

When you hear something nasty or smell something bad, your facial expression reveals your feeling through a series of facial changes like narrowing the eyes, raising the upper lip, and teeth may or may not be visible.  Raised cheeks and wrinkled nose complete the expression of disgust. When disgusted, the squinted eyes help us to find the origin of disgust. 

4. Expression of anger

When we are angry, it shows up on the face as vertical lines appear between the eyebrows, there is tension in the lower lip, and the eyebrows are drawn together at the lowest level. Lips remain firmly pressed, and nostrils might appear dilated as the lower jaw juts out. 

The lowered eyebrows are typical of the expression of anger.