Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What’s in a Face?

Another guest post this week from fellow ZMFer Eliza Shepherd ...

In a previous post, Theresa discussed the growing inquiry about the hit television show on Fox called “Lie to Me.” What makes the show so intriguing is that it is based off the work of Dr. Paul Ekman, a world-renown face reading expert and “human lie detector.” Through his research, Dr. Ekman found that “micro-expressions” (brief facial expressions) can reveal true emotions a person may be trying to conceal, such as deceit. Dr. Ekman’s work illustrates just how powerful and integral nonverbal cues are in communicating effectively. Consider the following:

  1. The most successful communicators are masters of emotional intelligence.
  2. Processing of nonverbal facial cues occurs without our conscious awareness, and when the cues are brought to our attention, we cannot ignore them.
  3. A mere 100 millisecond exposure to a face is sufficient enough to form specific trait judgments about an individual.
  4. This rapid and unconscious processing of morphological cues makes physiognomy a potent component in first impressions.
  5. Facial appearances of competence predict candidate electability. Todorov, Mandisodza, Goren, and Hall (2005) found that inferences of competence based from facial appearance accurately predicted the outcomes in U.S. Congressional election 68.8% of the time.
  6. Remember, estimates suggest that 80% of communication is nonverbal. Nonverbal cues, whether they are facial expressions, posture, tone, or eye contact etc., are more important than the words you use.

Take this test to discover how good you are at reading facial expressions.

Eliza Shepherd combines her background in Psychology with practical research experience in impression management, group decision making, nonverbal communication and leadership in her role as Associate Consultant. Shepherd lends her expertise in research design and analysis to ZMF’s jury research projects nationwide, including focus groups, mock trials, post-trial interviews, zOpinions (online surveys), and venue attitudes surveys.

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