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Fleeting Facial Expressions Reveal Deep Secrets
Date:4/25/2008

Study finding could help experts determine who's lying and who's telling the truth

FRIDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- They say the eyes are a window into the soul, but scientists have been reporting for some time now that "microexpressions" -- lightning-fast, almost imperceptible facial expressions -- tell the real story of what people are thinking.

Now, new research suggests that people have a lot more trouble hiding their emotions than they think.

Canadian researchers found that every one of 41 college students suffered from "emotional leakage," the inability to hide their true feelings when asked to falsify their facial expressions. Some let their emotions out through subconscious expressions that lasted longer than microexpressions.

The findings suggest that "the face has enormous potential to reveal concealed and falsified emotions," said study co-author Leanne ten Brinke, a graduate student in experimental psychology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"Because the face is less controllable than other aspects of our non-verbal behavior, it is likely particularly important to lie detection," ten Brinke said.

Still, the researchers found that it's difficult even for trained experts to figure out when someone is hiding how they truly feel.

Microexpressions -- defined as lasting between 1/25th and 1/5th of a second -- have gotten attention in the media in recent years, but the study authors said there hasn't been extensive research into their existence. In the new study, published in the May issue of the journal Psychological Science, the study authors tried to coax unconscious expressions out of college students participating in the research project.

The participants -- 35 females and six males -- watched a series of images, with some designed to elicit an emotion from the viewer, such as happiness (puppies playing) or disgust (a severed hand). Som
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