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Analyze Anyone on Sight

Updated on October 24, 2016

Quick test: Happily surprised or terrified eyes?

Subject #1
Subject #1

Secrets of the Face

At no other time has it been more important to know the inner character of the person with whom one is associating than now. Particularly if the other person is a total stranger. And we face strangers every day.

Customers and clients at the place we work. Other students at school. At a train depot. The airport. The movie theatre. Every time we’re in public we are challenged by people we’ve never met.

You do not have to be helpless in these situations. You can take control of the matter. By learning the basics of body and facial language a person can interpret the basic underlying characteristics of strangers. Is he or she a threat? Prone to violence? Trustworthy?

I’ve spent many years investigating this subject in my field as an anthropologist. I have also written extensively on the subject and created my own methodology when I discovered that many so-called authorities were leading people astray. I became alarmed when I realized that the emotions frequently associated with a particular facial expression did not match what I knew to be true in real life.

The earlier “experts” seemed to be relying upon primarily staged results. In other words: tell a subject to reveal an expression of joy and accept as true whatever the response is that he produces. But joy is not an emotion a person turns on and off on command. Few true emotions are. But it’s surprising how many professionals in the field do not understand this.

Try the test on yourself. Look into a mirror and create an expression of surprised happiness. Pretend you’ve just received a present you’ve long wanted. How would that be translated on your face into an expression?

Would you look something like this:


Joy or shock?

This is what most other facial language experts believe represents an emotion of surprised happiness. In reality, man (subject #1) supposedly just received a gift he’d long been wanting. At least, this is how he would look in an advertizing circular.

Is this the type of expression you presented to the mirror in the brief test you just tried? Maybe and maybe not. The fact is that the only time a person makes an expression honestly is when the emotion is reached honestly: when a person is actually joyfully surprised he will appear joyfully surprised not when he is told to appear joyfully surprised. They are not the same thing by any means!

So, I guess, no matter how you just appeared in the mirror it wasn’t a true reflection of true feelings of surprised joy. It was how you thought you’d look if you felt that way. I wonder how your expression would change in the mirror if you had really opened a box that held a present you really wanted. That expression would be a true representation of surprised joy.

The expressions that I use as valid examples in my book Analyze Anyone on Sight are the expressions I find in the natural laboratory of daily life, not the artificial laboratory in a science building. Below is an example of a person who is displaying a genuine expression of surprised joy. The photograph was taken of him from a distance at an amusement park, a place where people naturally experience pleasant surprises. Later the individual was located and quizzed about the emotional background to the photograph.

Subject #2
Subject #2

This is fun!

The emotion he (subject #2) is displaying is one of surprise and joy. Notice how different it is from the “staged” photo of the person above who was told to show what he’d look like if he just got a great gift.

To a trained professional these two expressions are not even similar. The one of the man in the amusement park is of surprised joy and the second one is a fake version of surprised joy. In reality, the second man’s expression reveals sudden terror! Sorry about the picture quality of the man in the park. It had to be taken from a great distance to ensure privacy.

Note the telltale differences between the two subjects. The most obvious is in the eyes. When a person is truly happily surprised the first reaction is to close the eyes, not spread them wide open. Eyes that are spread wide open usually denote fear or even terror. Also note the eyebrows on subject #1. Note how they are raised over the opened eyes. This too is a sign of fear rather than joy. The only feature that is similar between the two subjects is the wide opening of the mouth. And even they are opened differently. So, which one of the two is happily surprised and which is unhappily terrified?

My findings in this field are based on thousands of photos taken of people in public as they engage in activities that cause various emotional reactions.

The point I am stressing is that to be able to translate the body and facial language of strangers a person must have a basic knowledge of the commonly produced expressions and reactions of people as they occur in the real world. This is seldom found in a laboratory setting. It is most commonly found on city streets and in public places where people interact normally.

A respected expert in the field is also another source to help in translating facial and body language. You can learn the basics relatively quickly with the proper guidance. That’s the purpose of this article, to give you some basic clues as to how to analyze a person on sight. In fact, some of the information is taken from my best selling Ebook “Analyze Anyone on Sight – for the 21st Century.”

In our current study, we will be primarily concerned with someone you are either just meeting or who you know very little about. The first place you look for a clue is the face. Is the other person smiling, and if so, is it a real smile or one that is being worn to fool your or make you more comfortable? The smile truly is the most powerful expression made by the face. And the most powerful indicator of a genuine smile are the eyes and the smile lines that they produce and not the mouth.

Reserved smile

This appears to be a smile. His mouth seems happy to see you. But this can often be deceptive. Do the eyes match his seeming enthusiasm?

Not really glad to see you

For a smile to be genuine, the eyes must be “smiling” too. Smiling is a feature that is shown by a wide “blooming” of the eyes. This in turn causes lines of cheer, as I term them, to radiate from the sides of the eyes as well as beneath them. The eyes pictured above ARE NOT smiling eyes.

Compare the above eyes to these:

Eyes that really smile
Eyes that really smile

Happy eyes

You can see that these eyes are beaming. And the accompanying mouth smile is a match.

Really glad to see you

The gender doesn’t matter. The features used to read a smile are the same for both. And in this case, the features presented by the male’s eyes are flat and uninterested, lacking those tiny lines at the sides of and below the eyes which denote a real smile.

That’s why you must beware the use of the mouth only smile.

You don’t have to wait until you’re face to face with someone to be able to determine important insights about his personality. The way a person stands says a lot. So too does the way he folds or doesn’t fold his arms. There are many body language cues to decipher and often they must be deciphered in conjunction with one another.

For example, suppose you’re about to meet the person below for the first time. What might this kind of a stance tell you?

Does not want to listen

Arms that are folded in this manner – either by male or female – in general denote a person who is closed off from any true personal contact. The entwined arms form a type of barrier. And the tighter they are folded the stronger is the barrier.

So if you are about to meet the above person for any reason expect a difficult time to get to know him. Look at the next picture.

Will give you a chance to speak

Same scenario: meeting for the first time. In this case his arms aren’t really folded, but he does have one hand clasping a wrist. This suggests a better prospect for getting to know the man better. In fact, the manner in which his hands are clasped reveals a person who is trying to make you feel less fearful by in a figurative sense sheathing his weapons before him. This stance is a cautious invitation to get to know him better.

Next is another sign of caution mixed with openness. This time the stranger you are approaching is a female.

Open to you

Her open hand dangling at her side is a very welcoming sign. But her invitation to friendship is guarded slightly by the grasp she has on her upper arm with her opposite hand. What to look for next is what happens to that hand which is clasping her upper arm. If it falls to the wrist of her dangling arm so that both arms are held in front of her this implies she will be less open to a relationship, friendly or otherwise. However, if she assumes the stance as pictured below...

Easy to get to know

She has shown a willingness to more easily relate to you by dropping her barriers.

Some people claim that this is not an exact science. But based on my experience I have found that people are quite predictable in their behavior in regards to matching it to the movements made by their bodies or the expressions on their faces. When you have enough experience reading facial and body language it will be much easier for you to be able to predict anyone’s behavior or state of mind.

And remember, dogs can show happiness, too!

Dogs smile, too


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