As many of you know, I’m underemployed right now and looking for a new career that I can pursue here in Jacksonville. I had given myself until the end of this month to work something out. Starting next month I’ll be looking for any job doing something that doesn’t leave me completely exhausted and still gives me some time for Melanie and church.
Enough about me. In my research for new jobs, I started thinking about being a “mind reader.” Nothing mystical. I’m talking about the study of emotional recognition via micro expressions developed by psychologist Paul Ekman. His basic idea is that human beings do not suppress their true emotions completely. Even the best liars tend to reveal their true feelings with very quick facial expressions. We are talking about split second events. It is suggested that this might be one of the reasons people are able to quickly form an opinion on someone’s truthfulness. Their gut feeling about someone.
Interestingly, the overwhelming percentage of the population are quite terrible at reading people’s expressions correctly. One theory is that people want to believe others and so they buy in to the macro expressions that are being consciously projected (faking a smile and delight at hand-knitted shoe warmers for Christmas) and disregard the micro expressions that precede them (a look of disgust or hurt when opening the gift).
What got my attention was Mr. Ekman’s success rate. He has gone beyond theory to something with measurable results. He has a training program that will increase almost anyone’s abilities to read expressions correctly. With thorough training, students have been able to consistently tell when someone is lying 90% of the time.
Sadly for me, it appears that there are not true dedicated jobs using this ability. The closest I could find was becoming a behavioral psychologist.
Of course, the skill is extremely useful in many areas and it may be to your benefit to check out Mr. Ekman’s site and take one of his online classes. Obviously, judges, police officers, lawyers, etc. benefit from this skill. I could also see also see folks like teachers and doctors benefiting since they deal with causal lies that affect their performance (I took all the medicine. No it doesn’t hurt. Yes, I understand the lesson. etc).
And here is a fun little test you can take to determine your face reading skillz. I got 12 out of 20. How did you do?