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Read my Lips

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You can’t.  Well, you can try.  It is possible that you may even guess accurately as to what my current expression is conveying, but that is all it ever will be; a guess.  Contrary to a recently popular belief, (made better known by one of Fox Network’s newer shows, Lie to Me) facial expressions are not a globally ubiquitous phenomenon.

According to an article published last year by the BBC, researchers “concluded that information from the eyes is often ambiguous and confusing in these expressions, with consequences for cross-cultural communication and globalization.”  Essentially the subject is stating that East and West see eye-to-eye quite differently.  I am reminded of this due to a more recent and similar article published on CNN International.

The topic itself is about relationships, specifically regarding personal ones, yet I found it painfully difficult to ignore the (what I felt to be)  less-than-subtle marketing plow for the Lie to Me show itself.

If you’ve never heard of micro-expressions, it’s time you did. They’ve been famously studied by Paul Ekman, Ph.D. (the real-life model for Dr. Cal Lightman of the hit show “Lie to Me”), who found that all humans display the range of emotions with identical facial expressions.

-Martha Beck
CNN Contributor for the Oprah Magazine

If you read the full text, you might notice just how obtrusive that one little phrase in an article of over 1098 words truly is.

Once again, the British Broadcasting Company will remind us that, in fact, the team of 13 Western Caucasians and 13 East Asians evaluated different responses to a set of standardized images depicting the seven main facial expressions.

The paper states that the Eastern participants used a culturally specific decoding strategy that was inadequate to reliably distinguish the universal facial expressions of fear and disgust.

-Judith Burns
Science Reporter for the BBC

This easily signifies how and why certain cultures perceive information in general so differently.  The norm for one may not be the norm for any given other.  From Hollywood to global politics, the separation is relatively constant though I suppose it really speaks to the efforts of those who try to fluidly comprehend one another.

Gotta admit, the Micro-expression assessment is pretty fun.


Written by laFedeDolce

March 25, 2010 at 02:15