Robert Phipps - Body Language Expert

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Micro and Macro Expressions PDF Print E-mail
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Macroexpressions last from ½ second to 4 seconds: we see them in our daily interactions with people all of the time.

Microexpressions last less than ½ second: they occur when people are consciously or unconsciously trying to conceal or repress what they are feeling. Most people report that they don’t see microexpressions, however research has shown that people can be taught to spot these relatively easily: with training, in about an hour.

View our Microexpression Recognition Training

View our Advanced Microexpression Recognition Training

Subtle expressions are associated with the intensity of the emotion, not the time the emotion moves on and off the face. Subtle expressions occur when a person is just starting to feel an emotion, or when their emotional response to a situation, another person or the environment around them is of low intensity. Recently published research showed a high correlation between recognizing subtle expressions and being able to detect deceit.

View our Subtle Expression Training
Why Focus on the Face?

Nonverbal behavior is a major component of communication, and facial expressions of emotion are the most important and complex signal system humans have.

Research has documented the existence of seven universally expressed and recognized facial expressions of emotion (joy, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, contempt and disgust). The impact of this finding is immense: all people – regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, age, gender or religion – express these emotions in the face in exactly the same ways.

Reading signs of emotion in the form of macroexpressions, microexpressions and subtle expressions is an important skill for effective communication. The ability to accurately read emotions in others is extremely important to establishing relationships, building rapport, eliciting information, negotiation and many other purposes.

This skill has an immediate and powerful benefit for those who conduct interviews or interrogations, are involved in business transactions, perform law enforcement or security, provide health care or participate in the legal system.
Facial Expression Attributes, Type and DescriptionAttribute Type Description
Speed Macroexpressions These are emotional expressions that occur in normal discourse. When a person has an emotion and there’s no reason for the person to conceal his or her feelings, expressions go on and off the face between 0.5 and 4-5 seconds.
Speed Microexpressions These are signs of concealed emotions. They are very rapid, occurring less than 0.5 seconds, and often for 1/5th or even 1/15th of a second.
Signal Clarity Full Face These are expressions that involve all of the facial muscles associated with the prototypical, full-face configurations, often involving the areas above the brows, the eyes and cheeks, and the lower face.
Partial Expressions These are expressions that involve components of full-face expressions, being shown ONLY in the brows, or eyes and cheeks, or lower face.
Angle Frontal You see the whole face from the front.
Angle ¾ You see the face from the front at a 45-degree angle.
Angle Profile You see the face from the side at a 90 degree angle
Intensity Strong These are moderate to high intensity expressions, corresponding to FACS intensity codes C through E
Intensity Subtle These are low intensity expressions that appear very slightly, corresponding to FACS intensity codes A and B
Distance Close These are images sizes that correspond to social interactions between intimate or familiar interactants
Distance Medium These are image sizes that correspond to social interactions among acquaintances and strangers
Distance Far These are image sizes that correspond to viewing faces in public or at a distance

For more information go to the Training section.