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Interpreting Emotion Through Facial Microexpressions

Author: Megan Doyle

Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Social Science

Objective:

Evaluate test subjects’ ability to determine what a person is feeling by reading their facial microexpressions.

Research Questions:

Does age or gender influence ability to interpret microexpressions? Microexpressions are brief, involuntary facial expressions that occur in response to specific emotions. Some people are able to interpret this form of nonverbal communication better than others. The purpose of this experiment is to assess others’ ability to accurately interpret microexpressions. Students will try to determine if certain groups of people are better at “reading” this subtle form of communication.

Materials:

  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Test subjects

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Research examples of microexpressions and create your own test. Each test question should include an image and multiple answer options. As an alternative to creating your own test, you can utilize one of the many microexpression tests available online.
  2. Gather many male and female test subjects from many different age groups. Try to include at least 10 subjects in each test group.
  3. Ask each test subject to take your microexpression test. Record their results.
  4. Analyze your results. Does one gender score better than the other? Does one age group score better than the others? Are certain groups of people able to identify specific microexpressions better than others?

Terms/Concepts: Microexpressions; microexpression tests

Reference: Scheve, T. “What Are Microexpressions?”

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