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Do you see what I see? Learning to detect micro expressions of emotion

Abstract

The ability to detect micro expressions is an important skill for understanding a person’s true emotional state, however, these quick expressions are often difficult to detect. This is the first study to examine the effects of boundary factors such as training format, exposure, motivation, and reinforcement on the detection of micro expressions of emotion. A 3 (training type) by 3 (reinforcement) fixed factor design with three control groups was conducted, in which 306 participants were trained and evaluated immediately after exposure and at 3 and 6 weeks post-training. Training improved the recognition of micro expressions and the greatest success was found when a knowledgeable instructor facilitated the training and employed diverse training techniques such as description, practice and feedback (d’s > .30). Recommendations are offered for future training of micro expressions, which can be used in security, health, business, and intercultural contexts.

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Correspondence to Carolyn M. Hurley.

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This work was submitted in partial fulfillment of a Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University at Buffalo by the author. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, or the United States of America. The author would like to thank Dr.’s Mark Frank and David Matsumoto for loan of the Micro Expression Training Tool, second edition.

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Hurley, C.M. Do you see what I see? Learning to detect micro expressions of emotion. Motiv Emot 36, 371–381 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-011-9257-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-011-9257-2

Keywords

  • Micro expression
  • Facial expression
  • Emotion
  • Training