Spot the fake smiles

Take this BBC test to see if you can spot a genuine smile

Most people have difficulty spotting fake smiles. One possible explanation, offered alongside this BBC online test, is that it may be easier for people to get along if they don't always know what others are really feeling.

Although fake smiles often look very similar to genuine smiles, they are actually slightly different, because they are brought about by different muscles, which are controlled by different parts of the brain.

Fake smiles can be performed at will, because the brain signals that create them come from the conscious part of the brain and prompt the zygomaticus major muscles in the cheeks to contract. These are the muscles that pull the corners of the mouth outwards.

Scientists distinguish between genuine and fake smiles by using a coding system called the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), which was devised by Professor Paul Ekman of the University of California and Dr Wallace V. Friesen of the University of Kentucky.

Training in how to recognise happiness and six other emotions which have universal displays on the face is now available within our two core courses. Click here for more details.


© Paul Ekman International plc 2011 - 2016