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April 12, 2005


The swedish vicarage

I have always known myself as a bastard. My wife doesn't know.


Who decides which smiles are genuine and which are fake? The people who posed for the photographs (who might lie), or the researchers (who, AFAIK, have no objective way of knowing)? I can see it now:
"We need some snapshots for this study we're doing. Could you give us a nice genuine smile please? Thanks. And now, we need a fake smile. Cheeeese..."
"Hang on a sec, I think I wasn't being quite genuine enough there..."

Not knowing how the genuineness or otherwise of each smile was determined, I reckon the study really just measures how likely the guineapigs are to agree with whoever made that determination, rather than their objective ability to determine the genuineness of a smile.

If so, that would mean the study neither proves nor disproves the claim that women are more intuitive. Moreover, this being an MSM newspaper article, the author doesn't link back to where I might perhaps learn about the assumptions used in the study and draw my own conclusions regarding its merit. Sigh. I can find Richard Wiseman on Google, but no details of his study. Sigh again.


It would interest me to know why "some of [the faces in the photographs] were partially masked". How can you tell if a smile is genuine if you can't see the eyes?

Abiola Lapite

There *are* other "tells" than just the eye muscles. Look at the corners of the lips, for instance; the risorius muscle will be contracted if a smile is genuine. For more, see the following:


Maybe next someone will deal with the myth that women are more mature than men

Todd Fletcher

Isn't it obvious why women performed more poorly? Evolution has seen to it: if women could distinguish betweeen fake and real smiles in men, they'd never get laid ;-)


Being able to judge sincerity would be equally advantageous to both sexes so it’s unlikely to differ and as Abiola points out it’s what one does with that information that makes a difference. (How much of that is in itself genetically influenced?) But there is still the possibility that women may be better at reading facial expressions overall.


My experience is that women are more observant than men about people they know. Most men are focused on something else, achieving, competing, thinking, etc. Therefore, unless you force them to consider whether someone is faking or not, they will have a greater tendency than women to simply overlook it.

Analytically, I intuitively concur with the study. However, they have eliminated what I see to be a crucial real-life element: the fact that even though men might be just as good or better than woman at diagnosing this, they are much more likely to overlook the entire issue in the first place.

This would be challenging to test but better reflective of the genuine condition


"My experience is that women are more observant than men about people they know."

In hierarchical settings judging the boss' mood is a matter of great importance. It is also important in sales and similar negotiations. Traditionally these are male-sphere activities, so a man is going ton have as much need as an woman for these skills.

Most of the mental adaptations where men differ from women have to do with hunting adaptations, such as judging trajectories. Men developed those but still retained the earlier adaptations, such as judging color, because we still had to be able to judge ripeness. The same holds for judging sincerity and moods.

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