No. It’s just what people put on their face when someone’s going to take a photograph of them, a big, broad smile. The crucial thing is, there’s no sign that she’s really feeling genuine enjoyment while this picture’s being taken. Nor is there any sign that she feels any other emotion, no sign of sadness, no fear, no disgust, and no contempt. It’s just a “say cheese” smile.
ERROL MORRIS: It makes me think the “say cheese” smile was “invented” just for photography.
PAUL EKMAN: Oh, no, no. People do this all the time. This is a very broad smile. It’s the zygomaticus major. That’s the muscle that pulls the lip corners up obliquely. And she’s contracted it to its maximum. In the typical polite smile, the smile you give a host for a dinner party, when you’re going home and telling them you really enjoyed yourself, but you didn’t, you would employ the same zygomaticus muscle, but it wouldn’t be contracted as much. It would be inappropriate to give this broad a smile for most polite-smile situations. This broad smile only occurs with genuine enjoyment or when you’re posing for a camera. Unless you’re Philip Roth — all of the photos for his recent book show him with a totally serious, non-smiling face.
ERROL MORRIS: Just once again so I can be sure I understand. You can distinguish the “say cheese” smile from genuine smiling, the smile of enjoyment.
PAUL EKMAN: Absolutely. It’s the absence of the orbicularis oculi par lateralis. That muscle orbits the eye completely. It pulls up the cheek and it produces crow’s feet wrinkles. However, when you get a big broad smile, like she’s doing, that pushes the cheeks up anyhow. And it will produce crow’s feet wrinkles just on its own. So the only reliable clue as to whether orbicularis oculi par lateralis has acted is to look above the eye. No muscle can lower that skin other than the orbicularis oculi. The smiling-muscle, zygomaticus, can’t affect it. So you can put on as big a smile as you want, and the cover fold skin will not come down.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
For the Observant
An excellent read in the NY Times somewhat about the "smiley" picture from Abu Gharib. But there is a fascinating section on distinguishing fake smiles.