Facial Expressions can Reveal Fake or Genuine Remorse

by Dr. Trupti Shirole on Feb 11 2011 5:51 PM

 Facial Expressions can Reveal Fake or Genuine Remorse
A PhD candidate has investigated how genuine and falsified remorse reveal itself on the human face. These facial clues can help in detecting whether a person is sincerely sorry or faking regret. A greater range of emotional expressions, with quick shift from one emotion to another was seen among people who fake remorse, also there was some hesitancy while speaking. Experts termed this phenomenon as 'emotional turbulence'.
Leanne ten Brinke is a psychology PhD student at the University of Columbia (UBC). She did analysis of over 300,000 frames of the upper and lowed face. Brinke said, "Particularly in the lower face, liars were much more likely to be what we termed as 'emotionally turbulent'."

When compared with those were genuinely sorry, participants who displayed false remorse exhibited more of the seven universal emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, surprise, and contempt). The emotions displayed in facial expressions were further classified into three categories- positive (happiness), negative (sadness, fear, anger, contempt, disgust) and neutral (neutral, surprise). Researchers noticed that participants who were genuinely sorry did not swing directly from positive to negative emotions, but first went through neutral emotions. While those who were faking remorse made direct transitions from positive to negative emotions.

The findings of this study have important implications for forensic psychologists, parole officers and legal decision-makers as they need to assess the truthfulness of remorseful displays and look for genuine remorse before sentencing or releasing decisions.