Detecting Lies Through Facial Expressions


I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on, I can’t believe you.” – Friederich Nietzsche

Facial expressions are the number one indicator of emotions
Paul Ekman is the world’s leading authority on the interpretation of facial expressions and the scientific advisor to the popular Fox TV drama Lie to Me. Ekman has established that whenever we experience an emotion, it is automatically expressed by the facial muscles. This will often only be for a fraction of a second but is detectable with training or watching a slowed down video. These expressions are termed `micro expressions’ and potentially provide us with the most reliable clues as to whether someone is lying.

As a result of decades of research, studying the facial expressions of people from all over the world including small tribes in remote lands, Ekman has identified the following factors, that when present, may be clues to deceit:

  • False smiles
  • Holding the smile too long
  • Mistakes in timing of expressions
  • Blushing
  • Asymmetry

Indeed, such is the level of interest in the ability to decode people’s emotions by face reading that researchers at the University of Tokyo in Japan are developing a facial recognition system for robots and artificial intelligence agents that analyses basic eye, nose and mouth movements. It is claimed the system will be able to detect if a person is telling a lie. In trials in which people played poker, the system has already proved to be as reliable as humans trained to detect lies.

Recognizing micro expressions is perhaps the most difficult to learn of the lie detection skills contained in this book. Fortunately, Paul Ekman has developed an online facial expression recognition training tool that will help you develop your skills.

Published August 25, 2011Source: Martin Soorjoo