Subliminal Hacking
The Art and Science of Social Engineering


October 7, 2010

Body Talk… Getting a Facial

Back on the body language this week, and this time we are going to look at the face. The face gets lots of attention when it comes to body language, many people think it tells us the most, but as we have already considered, other body parts can be more telling. Still the face has its part to play and is still worth understanding for sure.


So what do we get from the face? Well we get alot of universal communication here, we read the language from smiles and frowns, we can tell when someone is bored, surprised, afraid and more. We already understand the values of micro expressions, but it is believed (I think it was Ekman who said it) that the human face is capable of over nine thousand facial expressions, so its clear the muscles in the face can have alot to say. The interesting thing is, we are all preprogrammed at some level to give off these signals and subconsciously pick up on them.

However because the facial expressions are so well known, people will often attempt (often successfully) to mask their facial expressions (this is where the super fast micro expressions help), and stop us from really picking up when reading the face what is really going on inside. So it is always worth being mindful of the fact the expressions we are reading are being faked, so this all comes into the baseline of the individual, are they a good actor, are the pulling the wool over our eyes?

Lets take a look at the tells of negative emotions, these are the emotions that cause use to become tense in many ways. There is the clue, we will see tensions in the face muscles, wrinkling of the brow, squinting eyes, tightening of the cheeks and less lip visibility. Overall there is a general rigidity and focused look about the individual, everything is literally put on high tension. These are the signs of someone showing fear, disgust and anger, however sadness will show some of these signals, but perhaps only for short spurts.

Positive emotions are very much the opposite, like a loosening up of the body, and this is especially expressed in the neck and face. So we will see fuller lips, tilting of the head / neck., less frown lines, and a generally more open looking. Smiles and dimples may be obvious, however the eyes can also show excitement regardless of the other signs.

The eyes can tell us alot, not just by the movement that we have discussed before, but also the eye lids and the pupils. When we are confronted or surprised you will notice the eyes widen, as do the pupils (dilation) to let in as much light and information, this may be slight, and then they may close / contract if the input is of little interest, or doesn’t meet with agreement. The constriction is also a sign of focus, closing out all the other information to pin point precision (this is also a good indicator when your working on focus for suggestion, hypnosis, etc). Just to close off on the eyes, and this may seem obvious, but its often overlooked. Closing and covering of the eyes, or perhaps even a rub of the temple which shades the eyes, can be a sign of disgust, of unapproving. This is called eye blocking, and is a natural defence to stop unapproved or unliked information from entering the brain.

Finally lets touch on the tongue and the nose. We have mentioned already about the tightening and less visibility of the lips, but its also important to notice the dryness that also occurs when under pressure and stressed. This then results in licking of the lips, and a kind of rubbing of the lips with the tongue in a sort of pacifying manner, and sometimes a biting / nibbling action. When we concentrate we can often poke our tongue out slightly (I do this :), normally when playing on the XBOX or picking a lock), and when in disgust and often a sign of rudeness poke our tongue out all the way. A kinda of half way house where the tongue is extend half way can be a sign that someone thinks they have been caught doing something, or perhaps they feel they have got away with something. They are sort of poking the tongue out in a nah ne nah expression, but in a more reserved fashion.

To close we will look at the nose. An obvious one is nostril flaring, this is common when someone is intent on doing something. It could be a passionate sign, or that of frustration or anger, either way something is brewing and about to occur. When I think of this, I always think of a snorting bull about to charge. You will also be familiar with the term looking down the nose at someone, well this is when the nose is raised in a majestic manner, like I am to upper class to talk to you. Its a sign of disgust, and high confidence, you or the question is beneath them. The opposite, nose down is a lower confidence, ashamed, stressed and sad.

I hope you found this of some interest, as with all things body language related, establishing the baseline is essential, so use this information as a guide, do your own people watching, and make your own mind up. Happy learning and remember the face is good at tripping us, we have evolved to miscommunicate our facial expressions, so use other body language to verify your thoughts..

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    About the Author

    Dale Pearson
    has worked in IT since 1998, Infosec since 2004, and studied and performed hypnosis, mentalism etc since 2009. Dale is a full time Red Teamer with a love of social engineering and qualified hypnotherapist. He spends a great deal of time researching the various skills and techniques that make up the art and science of Social Engineering.

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