When you meet someone for the first time you assess how you feel about them, subconsciously, very quickly. What they are wearing and how they hold their body is pretty obvious but did you know you are also scanning facial movements? Let’s look into the science of this.
ARE YOU TRUSTWORTHY?
Generally, faces that are babyish (think less pointy, with a high forehead) are rated as more trustworthy. Other face-based character assumptions seem to be tied to specific features. There’s some evidence that men with brown eyes are perceived to be more dominant than men with blue eyes, although putting in brown contact lenses does not change this, so there may be something else going on.
Recent research suggests we can override personality signals given off by our facial features. It requires the ability to ‘show the right expressions’ e.g. raising the lips and cheeks into a ‘positive’ slight smile, suggests the individual is trustworthy, (even if he or she isn’t)!
WHAT IS YOUR MOOD?
Many experts argue that humans show 6 basic emotions via 6 core expressions: surprise, fear, disgust, anger, sadness and happiness. But is this universal or appropriate to race or cultural background?
Recent research by the University of Glasgow suggests that there can be different responses to facial expressions from Westerners and East Asians. The latter were less consistent in recognising some emotions and saw eye movements as more important for interpreting feelings. Something to bear in mind when working in Asian countries.
ARE YOU ARTY OR SCIENTIFIC?
Most people prefer one side of their face – the one they turn to face the camera! However, research amongst academics has shown that there’s more to this than vanity. Engineers, mathematicians and chemists often posed with the right cheek forward, while arts scholars and psychologists often show their left cheek. There is also a gender difference, with female academics more likely to display a left cheek.
The research, from the University of South Australia, suggests that more emotionally expressive people tend to pose with the left cheek on show and observers assume that right-cheek posers are more scientific.
So, be warned, as we present ourselves to others in our profile pictures, what are you unwittingly revealing in yours?
I hope you found all this as fascinating as I did. More on #communication coming up soon.