A blog-post on Social Intelligence – Observing Nonverbal Behavior and Understanding Emotions – by Dr. Sandeep Atre.

“Mona Lisa’s smile is 83% happiness, 9% disgust, 6% fear and 2% anger” according to research tool FACS (Facial Action Coding System). But why isn’t that smile 100% genuine happiness?


Under the face lies a sort of subway of 43 muscles which are overlapping and intersecting. Most facial muscles are twins. And genuine smiles involve two facial muscles – Zygomatic Major & Orbicularis Oculi. In honor of the French scientist who proved it first, genuine smile is also known as Duchenne Smile.

While the first muscle pulls away the lips and creates the stretch on the face, the second muscle raises the cheeks, creating small cringes around nose and eyes (crow-feet). Also, the skin above and below the eyes gets pulled in – creating a bag or bulge below the eyes.

Moreover, in genuine smiles, there is synchrony in the action of these two muscles, i.e. they both reach the point of maximum contraction about the same time. As researchers Frank & Ekman say, this Joint apex characterizes real happiness. So, even if one can fake with movement, it’s hard to fake synchrony.


So, ‘Smile should reach the eyes, and that too in simultaneity with lips’ – is the third pointer regarding genuineness of smiles. More in my coming blog-posts… :-)

PS: All inputs on observing nonverbal behavior should be applied after establishing the baseline behavior.

Dr. Sandeep Atre, Founder Director, Socialigence – Developing Social Intelligence

www.socialigence.net – Specialized Online Courses and Customized workshops on Observing Nonverbal Behavior and Understanding Emotions