A psychologist recently investigated what your facial expressions say about you, especially “resting bitch face.”
Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne questioned why only women suffer from this condition. Men are more respected when they appear thoughtful. But women who don’t smile automatically appear cold, according to the theory.
If you think it’s impossible to control your facial expressions, it’s partly true. While we all want to appear honest while lying, it is not easily done. Facial muscles constantly respond to one’s inner fleeting emotions, notes Whitbourne.
But then why do people quickly conclude personality traits based on facial expressions, not just emotions? We assume that the woman is a “bitch,” a trait, rather than tired, worried, or angry, all fleeting emotions. So the question remains, what are we unknowingly communicating to others?
A study at the University of Glasgow in 2014 addressed this question by assessing dominance, trustworthiness and attractiveness in different facial expressions. They concluded that we can communicate power and dominance.
Another conclusion from the study was that attractiveness could not increase through facial muscle manipulations. Because it’s such an important part of mating and reproduction, the researchers concluded that people are “condemned to bear the social consequences of the inherited attractiveness of their faces,” (1085).
What a lovely thought.
Below is a list of traits from Daniel Gill and colleagues’ 2014 study in Psychological Science and how to manipulate them.
High dominance — wrinkling the nose and snarling the lips
Low dominance –– raising and lowering the brows, showing dimples, stretching the lips and lowering the chin
High trustworthiness –– raising the brows, deepening the lines between the nose and mouth and smiling
Low trustworthiness –– narrowing the eyes, wrinkling the nose, dilating the nostrils, frowning and parting the lips
High attractiveness — raising and lowering the brows, smiling and pulling the lips back in a slight smile
Low attractiveness –– tightening the eyelids, wrinkling the nose and pulling the lips open and back