Human Faces Can Express at Least 21 Distinct Emotions 1

Happily surprised (Image courtesy of The Ohio State University).

Happily surprised
(Image courtesy of The Ohio State University).

By Alice Park, Time

Distinct facial muscles were used to express compound emotions

Leading scientific thinkers of their time, such as Aristotle, Rene Descartes, Guillaume Duchenne, and Charles Darwin, have long promoted the idea that there are a handful of basic emotions that people express. In recent decades, that group has crystalized into six core emotions: happiness, surprise, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust.

But there are clearly many shades of gray between those emotions. For example, there’s the happy-because-I’m-eating-ice cream and the happy-because-I-just-learned-I-got-a-surprise-marriage-proposal looks, each of which is slightly different.

That’s what intrigued Aleix Martinez, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State University. “Six seemed a small number given the rainbow of possibilities of feeling and expressing emotions,” he says.

MORE: Emotions May Not Be So Universal After All

Martinez wanted to know whether compound emotions, such as happy surprise, were expressed using the same muscle movements of both happiness and surprise, or whether the expression involved a unique set of muscles that represented some amalgam of the two.

What he and his colleagues found was that the human face makes 21 different emotional expressions – and each is different from the other. While some represented combinations of emotions, each differed in terms of which muscles were involved.

And surprisingly, these facial expression patterns were remarkably consistent across all 230 volunteers. For example, each showed happy surprise in the same way that was distinct from both happiness and from surprise, and different still from angry surprise.

MORE: To Really Read Emotions, Look at Body Language, Not Facial Expressions

Martinez broke down the facial expressions of 230 volunteers by applying his engineering strategies. He and his colleagues gave each of the students, staff, or faculty members who enrolled in the study different scenarios and asked them to show how they would react in each one. They were told, for example, that they had just learned they had been accepted to a graduate program, that someone had told them a disgusting, but still funny joke, or that they had just smelled something bad. The volunteers were allowed to practice their facial expressions in front of a mirror before Martinez took pictures of their reactions.

He then computer-analyzed each of the 5,000 images, breaking them down by which facial muscles the participants used. These were first defined in 1978 by psychologist Paul Ekman, who codified facial expressions in the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) by action units, or muscles or groups of muscles that went into making facial expressions – such as lip parts (for showing disgust), showing teeth (for expressing happiness), mouth stretch (for fear), or eyelid tightening (for anger).

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Interpreting the Different Messages of “Barrier” Positions Reply

Boss using his desk as a barrier as he addresses a subordinate standing in the submissive, fig-leaf pose.

Boss using his desk as a barrier as he addresses a subordinate standing in the submissive, fig-leaf pose.

By Chris Simmons

“Barrier” positions are displays of emotional distancing. Some are planned, overt signs of power intended to reinforce the stiffness of the boss-subordinate relationship. Meeting with your boss while she remains seated behind her executive desk would be such an example. [Note: This contrasts with a more visually-open boss who sits in a chair adjacent to her desk so she is kitty-corner and barrier free].

To display power and emotional distancing while seated, Americans – especially men, will sit in the “Figure-Four” pose.

President John F. Kennedy sitting in a “figure-four” stance; generally viewed as a distancing or “barrier” position.

President John F. Kennedy sitting in a “figure-four” stance; generally viewed as a distancing or “barrier” position.

Very different barrier positions are seen in reactive body gestures that demonstrate either a lack of power, disengagement from the speaker, or increased tension/hostility.

Known as the fig-leaf, the disempowerment pose occurs when an individual covers their groin with their clasped hands. Understandably, it is a major display of submission. Interestingly, you will also see this stance at funerals and memorial services. In this context, it displays emotional loss and a subconscious demonstration of man’s subjection to death. Note: you will also often see this stance in staged photos wherein the subject(s) didn’t know where to put their hands. 

The most commonly seen and misunderstood barrier position is crossed arms. It can indicate the person is cold, disengaging from the ongoing discussion, or becoming antagonized. To distinguish between the latter two stances, look for signs of tension. A puffed up chest, tense arms, or fingers clenched into fists or around the arms reveal anger. In contrast, a person who is simply disengaging will be relaxed, as they will likely be disinterested, skeptical, or otherwise uncaring regarding this particular issue/person.

Similarly, an agitated person who is seated may wrap his/her ankles around the legs of a chair, “locking” or anchoring themselves down. The use of this barrier signals physical restraint, as the individual is taking measures to keep from springing out of their seat.

 

 

Deconstructing the Fear of Rejection Reply

Flickr Image by Mahalie

Flickr Image by Mahalie

What are we really afraid of?

by John Amodeo, PhD, MFT in Intimacy, A Path Toward Spirituality

The fear of rejection is one of our deepest human fears. Biologically wired with a longing to belong, we fear being seen in a critical way. We’re anxious about the prospect of being cut off, demeaned, or isolated. We fear being alone. We dread change.

The depth and flavor of fear varies for each individual, although there are common elements at play. If we’re willing to look, what is our actual felt experience of rejection? What are we really afraid of?

On a cognitive level, we may be afraid that rejection confirms our worst fear—perhaps that we’re unlovable, or that we’re destined to be alone, or that we have little worth or value. When these fear-based thoughts keep spinning in our mind, we may become agitated, anxious, or depressed. Cognitively-based therapies can help us identify our catastrophic thoughts, question them, and replace them with more healthy, realistic thinking. For example, if a relationship fails, this doesn’t mean that we are a failure.

From an experiential or existential viewpoint (such as Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing), working with our fear of rejection or actual rejection involves opening to our felt experience. If we can have a more friendly, accepting relationship with the feelings that arise within us as a result of being rejected, then we can heal more readily and move on with our lives.

A big part of our fear of rejection may be our fear of experiencing hurt and pain. Our aversion to unpleasant experiences prompts behaviors that don’t serve us. We withdraw from people rather than risk reaching out. We hold back from expressing our authentic feelings. We abandon others before they have a chance to reject us.

Being human, we long to be accepted and wanted. It hurts to be rejected and to experience loss. If our worst fear materializes—if our catastrophic fantasy becomes a reality and we’re rejected—our organism has a way of healing if we can trust our natural healing process. It’s called grieving. Life has a way of humbling us and reminding us that we’re part of the human condition.

If we can notice our self-criticisms and tendency to sink into the shame of being a failure and accept our pain just as it is, we move toward healing. Our suffering is intensified when not only do we feel hurt, but we think something’s wrong with us for feeling it.

If we risk opening our heart to someone who rejects us, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. We can allow ourselves to feel sorrow, loss, fear, loneliness, anger, or whatever feelings arise that are part of our grieving. Just as we grieve and gradually heal when someone close to us dies (often with the support of friends), we can heal when faced with rejection. We can also learn from our experience, which allows us to move forward in a more empowered way.

Feature continues here:  Deconstructing the Fear of Rejection

 

Is Once a Cheater Always a Cheater? Reply

Cheaters

Understanding the reasons behind infidelity

by Kelly Campbell, Ph.D., Psychology Today

Over 90% of Americans believe infidelity is unacceptable, yet 30-40% of people engage in it. Infidelity is associated with adverse outcomes such as depression, violence, divorce, and homicide. Considering these negative effects, why do people cheat? Is the phrase, “once a cheater, always a cheater” true? Here, I answer these questions and outline the three reasons for cheating.

1. Individual reasons. The phrase “once a cheater, always a cheater” refers to individual reasons for cheating or qualities about the person that make them more prone to commit infidelity. Researchers have identified a variety of individual risk factors including gender, personality, religiosity, and political orientation. Regarding gender, men are more likely than women to commit infidelity. This is largely because men have more testosterone, which is responsible for the strong desire to have sex. Regarding personality, those who have less conscientious and less agreeable personalities are more likely than people high on these traits to commit infidelity. If you’re wondering about your own personality, take this assessment: personalitytest. Very religious people and those who have a conservative political orientation are less likely than non-religious and liberal people to commit infidelity because they have more rigid values.

2. Relationship reasons. The second reason people cheat is for relationship reasons or characteristics about the relationship itself that are unsatisfying. For these people, becoming involved in a more well-matched partnership diminishes or eliminates their desire to cheat. So, the phrase “once a cheater, always a cheater” does not hold true for these people. Instead, factors about the relationship itself must be examined. Researchers find that partnerships characterized by dissatisfaction, unfulfilling sex, and high conflict are at risk for infidelity. Partner dissimilarity is also associated with infidelity. The more dissimilar partners are in terms of factors like personality and education level, the more likely they are to experience infidelity.

3. Situational reasons. The third reason people cheat is because of the situation. In such cases, a person might not have a cheating personality and might be in a perfectly happy relationship, but something about their environment puts them at risk for infidelity. Some situations are more tempting than others. For example, spending time in settings with many attractive people makes cheating more likely. The nature of a person’s employment is also related to infidelity. Individuals whose work involves touching other people, personal discussions, and one-on-one time are more likely to have an affair. When the sex ratio is imbalanced (i.e., an overabundance of men or women in the population), people are also more likely to experience infidelity. Finally, in terms of geographic region, people who live in urban areas, as opposed to rural, less populated regions, are at greater risk. This is because people in metropolitan areas generally have more liberal attitudes about extramarital sex and because cities have larger numbers of people, which creates an environment of anonymity and an abundance of partners with whom to have sex.

Feature continues here: Is Once a Cheater Always a Cheater?

 

The Science Behind “Self-Fulfilling Prophesies” 1

By Chris Simmons

It goes without saying that how one person treats another determines how that individual performs. What is not so well understood, especially by bosses and parents, is the legitimate science behind this occurrence.

An individual’s performance goes up or down, in large part, based upon the expectations levied against him/her. When high expectations are placed on a person, he/she will perform better. This phenomenon is called the Pygalion or Rosenthal Effect.

At the other extreme is the Golem Effect, which occurs when decreased performance results from low expectations.

The Rosenthal Effect takes its name from a study on student performance, while the Pygalion reference is taken from an ancient Greek legend. In the Rosenthal-Jacobson research, elementary school students were given a disguised IQ test. Twenty percent of the schoolchild were then randomly chosen — and for experiment purposes — identified as “peak performers.” The names of these purportedly high-potential students were then shared with the teachers. During the course of their study, all the schoolchildren advanced academically. However, the falsely labeled “peak performers” universally exceeded all expectations and past achievements.

Part of this phenomenon derives from how we make decisions. The 1st Rule of Human Nature, Self-Interest Trumps Best Interest,” captures the core principle that all decisions are based on emotion, not logic or reason. Furthermore, since Self-Interest is strongly tied to  Identity and Self-Image, the positive reinforcement that comes from high expectations triggers internal motivators that drive one towards the identified goal. Additional research has discovered that these affirmations and positive social interactions prompt a favorable chemical response in the body. This “endorphin rush” makes you feel better (and happier), which legitimately amps up one’s performance and emotions.

Ultimately, the increased performance by the employee/child also alters the behavior of the boss/parent. The leader will invest more time, attention and effort in their protégé, further incentivizing and sustaining the increased performance.

Taken in their totality, these actions create a self-sustaining feedback loop of positive emotions and in short order, this repetition creates a highly rewarding self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly, the inverse is equally true. As Calvin Lloyd noted, “Nobody rises to low expectations,” succinctly highlighting the crippling impact of negative feedback and the Golem Effect.

7 Sneaky Influence Tactics You Never Saw Coming 1

How people disguise their efforts to flatter and ingratiate

By Dr. Adam Grant in Psychology Today

Early in life, when people wanted to influence us, they got away with flattery and conformity. By complimenting us and agreeing with our opinions, they buttered us up and got what they wanted. As we gain experience with coworkers and bosses, advertisers and marketers, and friends and family members, we become wiser. We recognize these thinly veiled ingratiation attempts, and they fall flat.

Like a virus that mutates after being neutralized by medicine, many people have responded by developing more sophisticated weapons of influence. These stealth strategies are harder to spot, and if we’re not aware of them, we fall for them.

To learn about these tactics, strategy researchers Ithai Stern and James Westphal surveyed and interviewed thousands of members of the corporate elite. They asked CEOs, top executives, and board members at some of the world’s largest companies how they got away with ingratiating without making others suspicious of their motives. Seven consistent strategies showed up:

1. Framing flattery as likely to make us uncomfortable

Many executives admitted to prefacing compliments with disclaimers:

  • “I don’t want to embarrass you, but…”
  • “I know you won’t want me to say this, but…”
  • “You’re going to hate me for saying this, but…”

People get away with this sneaky tactic for two reasons. First, it disguises the goal: if the aim was to ingratiate, we expect people to focus on making us feel good, not bad. Second, it portrays us in a positive light: We think we’re viewed as modest.

2. Framing flattery as advice-seeking

Executives reported couching compliments in advice requests. Rather than saying “I really admire your success,” one executive asked an influential colleague, “How were you able to pull off that strategy so successfully?”

This makes it seem as if others are trying to learn from us, not ingratiate. As Jack Herbert put it, “We all admire the wisdom of people who come to us for advice.” Let’s face it: They have really good taste.

3. Complimenting us to our friends

When people compliment us directly, one manager noted, it’s “kind of obvious brown-nosing.” Instead, if they say nice things about us to our friends, “we will almost always find out about it eventually, and it will mean a lot more.”

When people speak glowingly about us behind our backs, we’re often pleasantly surprised that they were talking about us, let alone praising us. It also appears more genuine, because they’re putting their reputations on the line by telling others that they think highly of us.

Article continues here:  Sneaky Tactics

Six Simple Steps to De-Escalate a Tense Situation Reply

President John F. Kennedy sitting in a “figure-four” stance; generally viewed as a distancing or “barrier” position.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Chris Simmons

Previous posts have addressed the principle that emotions – not logic – are the core drivers in any decision. As such, when engaged in a discussion wherein tensions are rising, you can quickly lower stress levels by using these simple forms of nonverbal communication:

(not in priority order)

  • Change the angle of your body vis-à-vis your counterpart.
    • Shift your stance so your torso is not parallel to his/her upper body (i.e., you’re not “squared off” as in boxing).
    • If standing, cross your legs.
    • Tilt your head during the discussion.
  • Concede space, by either stepping back or leaning back.
  • Lessen the frequency and length of eye contact.
  • Avoid “barrier” behavior, such as crossed arms or a figure-four sitting position.
  • Take a deep breathe and audibly exhale. This gesture gently expresses your frustration while concurrently calming you and those around you.
  •  Enjoy a “change of scenery” together. Take a short walk or go get something to eat or drink.

In every human interaction, the majority of one’s message is conveyed nonverbally. Thus, rather than telling someone you want to defuse a tense situation, show them. Given our reliance on visual cues, “show, don’t tell” always achieves faster and more effective results.

A “Cheat Sheet” For The Art of Negotiation 1

By Chris Simmons

Negotiations come in all shapes, sizes, and intensities. While bargaining with a spy is very different from negotiating a home purchase or buying a car, many of the core tactics remain the same. Simple to master and easy to remember, these practices will help you get more out of any negotiation.

PREPARATION

  1. Understand that negotiations are rooted in emotional “wants,” not rational “needs.” For example, do you really “need” a 455 HP Corvette? Know what the other party truly wants. What is it that you need? How big is the gap between what you want and what you need?
  2. Identify the personal and cultural biases and quirks of the other party. Develop a plan to circumvent their biases or exploit weaknesses in their perceptions (for example, you may want to use a female negotiator in a male-dominated industry).
  3. Have an opening position, a “target” or ideal position, and a bottom line.
  4. In general, plan to address the easier issues first as a means of building momentum. The longer you negotiate, the harder it is for many people to walk away.
  5. Since most communication is nonverbal, one team member should focus on watching the behavioral cues of the other party.
  6. Remember, threats have no place in a negotiation, no matter how hotly contested.
  7. When possible, avoid allowing your decision-maker to get involved once the negotiations are underway. This maximizes your bargaining position and leverage by intentionally limiting your negotiator’s authority.
  8. Ideally, have a single spokesperson, but allow any team member to call a caucus, and caucus often.

“IN THE ROOM”

  1. Never be afraid to walk away from a negotiation – and ensure the other party knows you will if discussions sour.
  2. Operate from the perspective that everything is negotiable.
  3. Never accept their first offer.
  4. Nothing is free; every concession you offer is an exchange for something you want. Use “Yes, if…” in your discussions to reinforce the perception that the issue is not yet decided. Derail any outrageous offer by making your “if” so severe, that YOU decline the offer & counteroffer as unacceptable to both sides.
  5. Your initial offer should be at the upper limits of what is reasonable.
  6. Use sharply tapered concessions to gain momentum and show “good faith” effort. Make very small concessions as you near the end. Many individuals and groups follow a pattern known as the “Rule of Halves.” In this technique, each concession is roughly – but never precisely – half of the previous offer. If you are pushed below your target goal, intensify the theatrics by pushing hard for every point; seeking to split the difference; and offering no major concessions.
  7. Be patient.
  8. Always be on the lookout for creative concessions to offer.
  9. Be sensitive to any outside issue that seems to arise unexpectedly, as it could be a real issue.
  10. When the deal is almost done, ask for one more concession. This is known as a “nibble at the end.”
  11. Everything is conditional — until settled at the conclusion.
  12. When asked “is this your bottom line?,” answer with words to the effect “This is a fair offer/competitive offer/etc.”
  13. Ensure the other party feels satisfied with the outcome. Note: “Win-lose” negotiations are viable only in one-shot opportunities where no long-term relationship is sought (e.g., buying a car, house, etc).

 

Think You Can’t Change The World? Don’t Believe It Reply

By Chris Simmons

What words do you use to describe a man who cashed in his retirement pension to fund – and serve with – volunteers who flew high-risk Search & Rescue missions?

In the early 1990s, Cubans were so desperate to flee their prison-homeland that tens of thousands attempted to cross the Straits of Florida. However, the 93 miles between Key West and Havana are notoriously dangerous. The Cuban Navy would capture and tow escaping rafters back to the island or worse, sink their vessel and leave survivors to die at sea. Sharks were a constant threat.

And finally — the wind. Lacking money for any kind of motor, rafters were at the mercy of the trade winds. If the winds blew the wrong way or a rafter’s navigation was off – they were condemned to a slow, lingering death in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.

Living in the Florida Keys, Matt Lawrence refused to be a bystander to this human tragedy. He teamed up with three friends to fly their own rescue missions. The locals quickly dubbed them “Los Gringos con Corazon” – “The White Guys with Heart.” Matt’s pension paid for their equipment, fuel, and other necessities, but at a cost of roughly $1000 per mission, they needed to stretch every penny. To enhance their ability to save lives, the friends created the nonprofit group, Freedom Flight International.

Matt racked up over 500 hours of flight time during the next several years. Over the course of three “rafter seasons,” which ran from late spring through summer’s end, he flew an estimated 75-100 rescue missions.

Flying in search of rafters was inherently dangerous. Partnering with sister groups, Los Gringos and two or three other planes would fly abreast of one another, about five miles between each aircraft. The sheer size of the Florida Straits forced them to fly low since rafters left Cuba on lashed-together inner tubes or almost anything else that would float. Upon finding a rafter(s), they descended to 50-100 feet above the water, an extremely dangerous task at 130 miles an hour. The low altitude was necessary so they could drop emergency aid, communicate with the survivors, and assess the situation. After a mission, countless additional hours were spent on plane maintenance, prepping for the next flight, and training.

Matt Lawrence and the rest of Los Gringos stopped flying in August 1994 – the month President Bill Clinton reversed US policy and ordered the Coast Guard to repatriate every Cuban rafter found at sea. The exodus was over.

In the course of three short years, Los Gringos con Corazon helped save 511 rafters.

Matt Lawrence did what he felt was necessary to save lives. He asked and expected nothing in return. Some may see his actions as reckless – his girlfriend did – she walked out on him because of his rescue efforts. Looking back, he sees his sacrifices as wholly justified – and I trust 511 Cuban-Americans would agree with him.

Now a best-selling author and dive instructor, Matt Lawrence is also a former treasure hunter and aficionado of sea-recovered artifacts. He lives quietly in Summerland Key, a few islands to the east of the madness that is Key West.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead   

The sad sight that Matt Lawrence called "A Tombstone at Sea."

An empty raft — a sight Matt Lawrence called “A Tombstone at Sea.”

"Los Gringos con Corazon" on a mission with "Brothers to the Rescue." From left to right, Thomas Van Hare, Conrad Webber, Steve Walton, Matt Lawrence.

Los Gringos con Corazon” on a mission with “Brothers to the Rescue.” From left to right, Thomas Van Hare, Conrad Webber, Steve Walton, Matt Lawrence.

Rescued rafters

Rescued rafters