Micro-Expressions: Detecting Deception in the Blink of an Eye

What exceptional criminal interviewers and Dr. Paul Ekman are sharing with us.

     A micro-expression is an expression of emotion that appears on the face for a period of time of 1/25th to half a second. That is a blink of the eye. A micro-expression occurs when we have an emotional reaction and try to suppress the muscles in the face to hide the reaction. There is a slight delay between the emotional reaction and our ability to control facial muscles.

     You would be surprised how frequently micro-expressions are demonstrated on the face. You have been seeing these regularly, you just may not have known what you were seeing.

The seven universal emotions in the face are the only universal nonverbal cues. Facial expressions reveal what a person truly thinks and feels. Our body language is how we cope with those emotions. If you and I are both angry, you may put your hands in a fist. I may cross my arms. This is body language. Neither is universal but our faces will use the same muscles in the face to exhibit the emotion of anger. Micro-expressions are all about the muscles behind the face.

     What do exceptional interviewers do when they see a micro-expression? It's quite simple - they ask more questions about the topic of conversation. Because micro-expressions reveal either hidden emotions or deception.

     In this training video, we demonstrate one of the exercises used to train participants to read micro-expressions lasting 1/5th of a second. The interview instructor in the video is retired Special Agent Mary Daugherty, ATF, and is one of the four interviewers capable of detecting all forms of deception almost 100% of the time and can accurately detect micro-expressions lasting 1/25th of a second.

Analytic Interviewing