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The results of a recent study showed that facial expressions are not the main indicators of a individual’s emotional state. The results showed that body language, not facial expressions, was a better indicator of a person’s emotions.
In this study, photographs of professional tennis players were shown after they won or lost a point. The subjects or participants in the study were shown three types of pictures of the tennis players and were asked to determine if the player won or lost the point. One photograph was of the face and body; another just the body; and the third, just the face.
The subjects had no difficulty determining the tennis player’s emotional state by just observing the body image alone. It was the player’s body image that was important.
Although the subjects determined that the facial expressions were different, they were not always able to decide if the expressions were positive or negative. The more severe the emotion, joy or sadness, the more the face contorted, thus making it even more difficult to determine what emotion was present.
However, when judging just the body image, or the body and the face, it could be determined if a negative or positive reaction was taking place.
The researchers believe that shrieks of joy and shrieks of fear are many times difficult to differentiate. But, when adding body image to the shrieks, the determination is much easier to make.
Interpreting body language has almost become a science. How a person positions his or her body may have many indications. A person who is slouching indicates one thing, while an individual who is ram-rod straight tells another picture.
Some lawyers utilize body image experts to help them choose a juror who would be more helpful to their client.
Although body image is important, don’t dismiss the significance of also looking at the face. Sometimes, just the eyes tell the story.
If the results of this study are correct, when gambling playing cards and your opponent has a “poker” face, take a glance at his body image before you raise the ante.
Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children and president of the Genesis Fund, a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.