Detecting false smiles

  • No crows feet: The orbicularis oculi muscle raises the cheek, narrows the eye, and produces “crows-feet”wrinkles at the corners of the eyes. This would seem easy to imitate but most of us are unable to contract the orbicularis oculi voluntarily. So, a close look around the eyes will often reveal a false smile. However certain people (about 20 percent of the population) actually have the ability to control the orbicularis oculi, increasing their chances of escaping detection.
  • Less symmetrical: False smiles tend to be less symmetrical, meaning that the muscle movements on the two sides of the face aren’t precisely the same.
  • Jerkier: In addition, the muscle movements during false smiles are jerkier, less smooth.
  • Held longer: False smiles are often held longer than natural (Frank & Ekman, 1993).


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