These days television and internet gives you new hacks to understand a person’s true feelings in many ways. Recent studies have come up with the empathy test, created by psychologist Richard Wiseman, which probes our ability to appreciate the feelings of others – from their appearance. This is basically based on the concept of identifying real or false smiles based on your own empathy skills.
A photographer asks a subject to imagine meeting an individual they don’t like and to put on a fake smile. Later the subject sits with a real friend and as they converse, the photographer records their genuine smile. Thus two versions of their smile are recorded.
The question is: how easy is it to tell the difference? “If you lack empathy, you are very bad at differentiating between the two photographs,” says Wiseman, who teaches at the University of Hertfordshire.
Many a times people smile not genuinely, but because they have to. Understanding how smiles work will help you spot the difference which is actually really helpful in daily life and will also make your pictures better (added bonus).
People can even smile and mean it without showing their teeth at all, but even with closed-mouthed smiles, you can tell that both muscle groups are being activated.
The first thing most people do when asked to smile is bare their teeth. Yes, big fat smiles usually include a set of pearly whites, but there’s a little more to it than that (so, you better watch out).
Here are 3 ways to spot the fake smile –
1) Check out the eyes when the orbicularis oculi muscle contracts, it narrows the eyes anywhere from just a little to completely shut
There are actually two muscle groups involved in a true smile – one controlling the mouth’s upward movement, and the other controlling the outside of the eyes.
2) Check the eyes again – the same muscle causes crow’s-feet to form at the corners of the eyes
The secret to detecting a real smile is that most people can’t voluntarily control their orbicularis oculi muscles – the ones surrounding the outside of your eyes. If your smile is genuine, you’ll notice wrinkles forming near your eyes making them narrower. Since it’s very difficult to control that muscle, your eyes tend to express your true feelings.
3) Check which direction the mouth moved – the majority of smiles push the face upward, meaning fuller cheeks, and a U-shaped smile. The lower set of teeth should not be visible. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, like when people open their mouths to smile or laugh
There are other muscles around your mouth that move it in other directions, which aren’t involved in true smiling. If these muscles are activated, it could cause the person to bare their lower teeth, which is a mild indicator of faking it (though that’s not always the case).
These basic concepts are very helpful in work as well as personal environment, so, use it wisely.