The Eyes Have It

by DavalosMcCormack on June 4, 2008

I have a friend that makes me nervous! She does! And it isn’t anything that she says or does that makes me uneasy, it’s the way she looks. The way she looks makes me wonder if she is angry, or in a bad mood, because her forehead is always clenched and wrinkled right between her eyes. I didn’t realize this was causing me to react in any way until we were sitting at a restaurant and the waitress came over and asked her if anything was wrong. Yikes! I finally became aware that other people were reacting to her too. And a new study says that’s exactly what’s happening, that your face may be sending out signals you know nothing about.

Your eyes and eyebrows can make you look happy, tired, sad, fearful, even angry. These are perceived emotions based on the shape and placement of the eyebrow and the eyelid. Dr. John Persing, author of a new study in the journal ‘Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery‘, study said, “We found that variations in eyebrow contour, drooping of the upper eyelid, and wrinkles may convey facial expressions that don’t necessarily match how patients are feeling.

The study took a photo of a youthful face. (I thought that was their first problem. Why didn’t they use an older model?) Then, the youthful face was digitally altered in various ways including eyebrow shape and position, upper and lower eyelid position, upper lid drooping and removal of excess skin, and facial wrinkles. Then 20 health care workers were given the photos and asked to rate, on a scale of 0-5, the presence of seven expressions or emotions: tiredness, happiness, surprise, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear. The researchers found that overall the shape of a person’s eyebrows had a greater influence than absolute position on a person’s perceived mood.

Most people turn to plastic surgery because they think they look tired. In 2007, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) statistics, more than 241,000 eyelid surgeries were performed. Guess what, sometimes that eyelid lift can actually add an unexpected, even unwanted, emotional perception to a person’s face. You’ve seen that surprised look on a person with a new face lift. Who needs that!

Here’s the deal, sometimes when plastic surgeons lift the top brow in order to make you look younger the overall effect can actually make you look surprised and fearful. So what do we learn from this study? Basically it means your eyebrows are giving out signals that you may not be aware of. So, if you are thinking of getting cosmetic surgery be sure you talk with the doctor about the overall effect of surgery on your eyes.

Dr. Persing says, “the eyes nonverbally communicate a wide range of expressions, therefore, facial expression should be a factor in how patients and their plastic surgeon select various rejuveatuon procedures. Even the slightest modification can elicit a profuound change in how other perceive us.”

Wow, am I glad these guys are studying this stuff because they found what that those little wrinkles around your eyes, the laugh lines or so-called crow’s feet, actually make you look happy and younger. Remember, these are the very same wrinkles that people are trying to get rid of with botox injections. So how about that! Maybe you just need to be aware of what our face says about you. Do you look angry even though you don’t feel that way?

So when I told my friend about this study and how people may be reading emotions that aren’t there. She said, “Yeh, I think the botox wore off.”

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