Can We Truly Lie?

The world has changed and deception has become one of the most common practices for many people. However, no matter how good one is in lying, it is hard for one to hide their true intention due to their facial expressions. According to Paul Ekman et al., the human face is a commanding, complicated and at times confusing source of information. They mentioned that the human face is commanding due to the fact that it is very hard to control the changes which occur while we are conversing with others. Whether we are explaining, persuading, or agreeing, our facial expressions change. Also the human face is complicated and confusing at times because the expressions which are shown by the person who is speaking may not be correlating to what he is saying. This makes it hard for the listeners to understand what the speaker is trying to convey. The human face is also said to be confusing because there are people who are skilled in hiding their facial expressions so that their feelings would not be exposed to others. Lastly, Ekman says that human face could be a good source of information because no matter how much one tries to hide their emotions, they are not able to completely do so.

Facial expressions were first studied by Charles Darwin. He said that facial expressions are not affected by cultural differences. However in the 1950’s, most scientists had come to believe the opposite. This conflict was solved by a study conducted by Paul Ekman. He visited the Fore people, who had never been exposed to the different media or other people, and compared their facial expressions to the Westerners. The result of the study was that the facial expressions of the Fore people were very similar to the facial expression of the Westerners. Thus, Ekman’s study proved Darwin’s theory—facial expressions are not affected by cultural difference—to be true.

The studies regarding facial expressions were further pursued by other scientists and have shown that there are global facial expressions. These global facial expressions are categorized into seven different emotions: sadness, surprise, anger, contempt, disgust, fear, and happiness.

“SADNESS: The eyelids droops as the inner corners of the brows rise and, in extreme sadness, draw together. The corners of the lips pull down, and the lower lip may push up in a pout.

SURPRISE: The upper eyelids and brows rise, and the jaw drops opens.

ANGER: Both the lower and upper eyelids tighten as the brows lower and draw together. Intense anger raises the upper eyelids as well. The jaw thrusts forward, the lips press together, and the lower lips may push up a little.

CONTEMPT: This is the only expression that appears on just one side of the face. One half of the upper lip tightens upward.

DISGUST: The nose wrinkles and the upper lip rise while the lower lip protrudes.

FEAR: The eyes widen and the upper lids rise, as in surprise, but the brows draw together. The lips stretch horizontally.

HAPPINESS: The corners of the mouth lift in a smile. As the eyelids tighten, the cheeks rise and the outside corners of the brows pull down.”

These seven facial expressions are common to all and they are naturally shown on the human face. Though people may try to conceal these seven facial expressions, they are not able to completely do so due to micro expressions. Micro expressions are expressions that only last for one-fifteenth to one-twentieth of a second when people try to hide their facial expressions. And these micro expressions are not controllable since there are forty-three involuntary facial muscles which genuinely move to show our micro expression. By studying micro expressions, we are able to know if the person is telling the truth or lying based on the relationship between their words and face.

Before knowing the importance of studying facial expressions in finding the truth, people relied on lie detectors to detect lies through blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity. However, studies have shown that lie detectors are not hundred percent accurate. It is said so because there are many factors which can affect our blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity. For example, there are people whose blood pressure rises when they feel anger. But there are also those people whose blood pressure rise when they see an opposite sex who is attractive. Even though the lie detectors are able to find the changes of the blood pressure, pulse, respiration and skin conductivity, it cannot explain the factor behind causing such changes. Therefore, many people no longer believe in lie detectors but rather depend on micro expressions.

Detecting lies through micro expressions can be done by personally meeting the target or through the use of video cameras. Also, enlisting the help from people who are born with the special ability to detect micro expressions can further enhance the field of catching lies. These people are called as “Truth Wizard” by Maureen O’Sullivan, a famous facial expression scientist. However, no Truth Wizards are hundred percent accurate in detecting micro expressions, but they have an eighty percent accuracy in detecting the correct micro expressions. The Truth Wizards are not only able to catch the micro expressions, but they are also able to infer people’s intention by seeing their body language and spoken words. For those people who are not Truth Wizards, they can video tape the person they are speaking to with the use of video cameras. Since they do not have the ability to instantly catch micro expressions, they would try to see the micro expressions by replaying the video in slow motion.

Currently, scientists are creating a computer system that would be able to read all the ten thousand muscle movements which create the different facial expressions. The reason behind creating such system is to help increase the safety of our society. This can be achieved through catching more criminals such as terrorists and spies who has mastered the art of deception. In a simpler context, robbers, killers and other types of criminals could be easily caught among the suspects .

The world has become more corrupted. It is filled with lies, deception, and all forms of trickery. People would choose to lie than tell the truth to others because they conclude that lying could give them protection from the harsh reality and guilt. However, now with so much improvement in technology, we are slowly being able to detect the lies told by the people. Thus, we should not be corrupted by our surrounding and be honest people, since people cannot truly tell lies anymore.

Yoon, Hyung Tong



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