SciAmMind on microexpressions and gestures

sciammind_oct2006.jpgA new issue of Scientific American Mind has arrived on the shelves with a couple of freely accessible articles on microexpressions and communication through gestures available online.

Microexpressions are like any other facial expression, but they are very subtle and occur incredibly quickly, coming and going in several hundred milliseconds.

Paul Ekman, largely known for his discovery that many facial expressions of emotion were universal, has been particularly keen on researching microexpressions in recent years.

It is thought that these fleeting expressions give away the inner emotional state (and maybe whether someone is lying), because they are under less conscious control than more obvious facial expressions.

The other freely available article is on the gestures we make when talking, that potentially give an insight into the hidden psychology that belies our words.

Our body movements always convey something about us to other people. The body “speaks” whether we are sitting or standing, talking or just listening. On a blind date, how the two individuals position themselves tells a great deal about how the evening will unfold: Is she leaning in to him or away? Is his smile genuine or forced?

The same is true of gestures. Almost always involuntary, they tip us off to love, hate, humility and deceit. Yet for years, scientists spent surprisingly little time studying them, because the researchers presumed that hand and arm movements were mere by-products of verbal communication. That view changed during the 1990s, in part because of the influential work of psycholinguist David McNeill at the University of Chicago.

Link to contents of October 2006 SciAmMind.
Link to article ‘A Look Tells All’.
Link to artice ‘Gestures Offer Insight’.

One Comment

  1. Posted October 23, 2006 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Is it possible that the great insights gained with conventional studies on facial expressions (both in their neural mechanisms and also their communicative role)and gestures studies as well accompaning or not speech, can be exported to other channels of expresivity such as the hands, legs or whole body. Let me explain myself.
    We know that when some physiological event happens and is colored with emotion, it affects the skeletal-musculature resulting in facial expresions of emotions to be considered universal in nature. But i wonder if is also possible to find “hand expressions of emotions” (and why not “legs expression of emotions” or “arms expressions of emotions”), that is, whenever someone feels joy if we can detect a special motion, trayectory and morphology of the hands, legs or arms bilaterally or ipsilaterally… that reflects that this very emotion or not is ocurring. An if this is the case if we can pursue studies on recognition of hand expresions of emotion, hand identity…


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