If you’re plagued with Resting Bitch Face – looking like someone just woke you up from a nap, when really all you’re thinking about is New Girl and pizza – life can be hard. Thankfully, a couple of guys from Noldus Information Technology deemed this topic so important, they decided to conduct research on it. What a time to be alive.
Behavioral researchers, Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth posed the very necessary question, why do we see a neutral expression as RBF? In other words, why are some people seen as expressionless and others are deemed off-putting?
To find out, the two used a “sophisticated” face reader that maps 500 points on the human face and then assigns an expression based on eight human emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt, and “neutral.” They then collected 10,000 faces, which together registered a 97 percent neutrality. The remaining three percent included a touch of sadness and surprise here and there, but nothing particularly significant.
Using notorious celeb RBF’s like Kanye West and Kristen Stewart, the level of emotion doubled.
The reasoning for this could be a slight movement in the lip or a squint in the eye. Macbeth said, “It’s kind of a tightening around the eyes, and a little bit of raising of the corners of the lips — but not into a smile.”
Yet why is the jump so signifiant for such insignificant changes? Macbeth concluded that the machine detects and interprets them the same way our brains do. The shocking discovery, though, is that the machine detected RBF equally in men and women, yet mostly women are suggested to suffer from this. Aka, society sucks and created gender bias.
Macbeth cited Anna Kendrick, an infamous RBF sufferer.
“When she was younger, directors would say, ‘Why don’t you smile more, you need to smile more, you don’t seem like you’re very happy,’” Macbeth said. “That’s something that’s expected from women far more than it’s expected from men, and there’s a lot of anecdotal articles and scientific literature on that. So RBF isn’t necessarily something that occurs more in women, but we’re more attuned to notice it in women because women have more pressure on them to be happy and smiley and to get along with others.”
Well there you have it. The next time someone tells you to smile more, tell them it’s literally just your face…because science.
[H/T: Washington Post]