What are Micro Expressions?

What are Micro Expressions?

Micro expressions are brief, involuntary facial expressions that reveal a person's true emotions. They last for a fraction of a second, typically 1/25 to 1/5 of a second, and are often too fast to be consciously controlled.

The Science Behind Micro Expressions

Micro expressions are a result of the brain's subcortical structures, which are responsible for our automatic and emotional responses. When we experience an emotion, these structures send signals to the muscles in our face, causing us to make a corresponding micro expression.

The Seven Universal Micro Expressions

There are seven universal micro expressions that are associated with the following emotions:
  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Disgust
  • Surprise
  • Contempt

How to Recognize Micro Expressions

Recognizing micro expressions requires a trained eye and attention to detail. Here are some tips:
  • Learn the basics: Familiarize yourself with the seven universal micro expressions and how they manifest on the face.
  • Pay attention to the eyes: The eyes are often the most expressive part of the face and can reveal subtle emotional cues.
  • Observe facial muscle movements: Look for specific muscle contractions that correspond to different emotions.
  • Consider the context: Take into account the situation and the person's verbal communication to accurately interpret micro expressions.

Applications of Micro Expressions

Micro expressions can be useful in various fields, including:
  • Psychology: Understanding and interpreting human emotions.
  • Law enforcement: Detecting deception and identifying potential threats.
  • Business: Reading nonverbal cues during negotiations and job interviews.

Limitations of Micro Expressions

It's important to note that micro expressions are not always an accurate indicator of a person's true feelings. They can be influenced by cultural factors, individual differences, and deliberate attempts to conceal emotions.


Micro expressions are a fascinating and complex area of study that can provide valuable insights into human emotions. By learning to recognize micro expressions, you can improve your communication skills, build stronger relationships, and enhance your understanding of yourself and others.
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