Truth is Written on Your Face
Reported June 2009
SAN FRANCISCO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- You can't hide from the truth … or can you? Is it possible to cover up your emotions, or will your body get the best of you? The truth is written all over your face.
From happy to sad, to every emotion in between -- your face reveals more than you may want anyone know. From TV shows to reality, experts are focusing on what our bodies subconsciously say.
"We've got this whole language of non-verbal language that's going on even when we're talking," David Matsumoto, Ph.D., a psychologist at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, Calif., told Ivanhoe.
Dr. Matsumoto has made a career out of focusing on what people don't say.
"The face conveys so much information," Dr. Matsumoto said.
He works with police and experts around the world to find the truth by reading faces.
"When people are telling a lie, and it's high stakes and they don't want to get caught, there's often inconsistencies between the verbals and the non-verbals," Dr. Matsumoto said.
One TV interview with Alex Rodriguez provides an illustration.
"For the record, have you ever used a performance-enhancing substance?" the interviewer asks.
"No," Rodriguez replies, but his lip is curled on the left.
"He's saying no, but signaling yes, and he's showing you he's contemptuous," Dr. Matsumoto said. "That picture that you're getting is not very consistent."
A few months after this interview, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids.
Dr. Matsumoto says despite where you're from, what gender you are, what background you come from, and your age, people all show the same seven universal emotions, the same way. His latest study is digging deeper into our emotions. He took his theory to the Athens Olympics -- to the gold medal match in judo. Dr. Matsumoto knows the sport well -- he was the Olympic head coach for several years. He found that emotions are not learned, but something that we're all born with.
"This big broad huge smile that happens is an immediate, automatic, unconscious reaction," he said.
Pure joy -- not unusual here. But at the Paralympics a few weeks later, the blind winners -- who have never seen another person's smile -- had the exact same response, revealing that we are born knowing how to express these emotions.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
David Matsumoto, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
San Francisco State University
Truth is Written on Your Face
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