Can you tell the difference between a fake and a real smile? The short (3-5 minute) test asks you to report your “outlook” on life and “confidence” in spotting a fake versus real smile. Then it takes you through 20 tiny video snippets to determine a fake versus real smile. I haven’t been able to answer this question, though: did BBC determine if ability to detect a real smile correlated with positive outlook or not? I’m not sure I want the answer.
Having studied facial-action coding Eckman stuff a bit, I was overly confident and scored a mediocre 11 out of 20. Then, without looking at ANY of the answers (right or wrong) I adapted my approach to NOT feel the smile (going with gut) but to focus on analyzing it according to some of the information below. My second test was a 15 out of 20.
This from “ScienceBuddies” (source of images too): “Non-emotional or “fake” smiles result in movement of the “zygomatic major” muscle, but not the “orbicularis oculi.” These were first documented by French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne (hence “Duchenne smile”).
Now do you want to get better at this? Not necessarily. We may be hardwired to accept a fake smile… it helps us get along.
But here are some tips if you decide to try again (don’t use these during your first run).
- Says Eckman: “The only place that will reveal the difference in a broad intense smile is the skin between the eyebrows and the upper eyelid. That will move slightly down in the genuine smile and will not move in the social or false smile. Everybody can voluntarily make their lips smile, but very few people can contract the muscle that surrounds the eyes.”Look at whether the smile bunches up in the cheek, or moves outward.”
- Look for a contraction around the cheek, but that’s harder to detect and easier to fake.
- A real smile I believe is higher in the muscles of the face, and a forced smile involves fewer and outer muscles.
- Check the eyes for curling, but don’t let crows lines (or absence of them) deceive you- look for change.
- The eyebrows kept throwing me off since they appear sincere but are easy to manipulate than the cheek motion. May want to discount them.
- Watch the speed of onset and decline (but the videos kinda make that hard)
Via JasonYoungLive, here’s a test on your ability to interpret eyes. Again- this is a learnable skill, but not necessarily in your emotional self interest. It might help you spot a fake, but it might make you less emotionally receptive to a courtesy smile from a genuine person who’s just not in a good mood.