Different Meanings of Face Gestures

Written by morgan crouch
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Different Meanings of Face Gestures
Smiling face gestures tend to indicate happiness. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

It's important and helpful to understand a person's facial gestures. Understanding what emotions are attached with certain socially accepted gestures help us understand what that person is feeling. These gestures can be easily read but also difficult to interpret. People often put on a happy face even though they feel sad, making understanding face gestures a bit of a gamble. Still, it's always best to err on the side of caution.

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One of the most common facial gestures is looking up while thinking or contemplating. Looking up and to the left may insinuate remembrance of a previous event that has happened. Looking up to the right may indicate the person is being creative or imaginative. Looking in this fashion also can indicate someone is lying. These eye movements are for the general population and may be reversed for some people. Asking questions can help determine which movements belongs to which meaning. When the eyes look down, it may show that the person is submissive, feeling guilty or full of shame. This eye movement is usually teamed with a downward head tilt. The quick closing of one eye, or a wink, is a common gesture that signifies acceptance and support.


The mouth is capable of changing our face gestures and helps communicate how we are feeling, or at least how we would like others to think we feel. When the mouth is open, it shows surprise or astonishment. When one lip corner is raised in a sneer, the gesture can show disgust or annoyance. Biting one side of the lip or other shows uncertainty or that one is slowly thinking through a difficult decision. A frown shows displeasure, while pursed lips can show anger or frustration. The mouth also is capable of showing happiness with a smile, or dissatisfaction with a frown.


Eyebrows can show a multitude of facial gestures. When the brows are lowered, it shows an assertive, angry or threatening emotion. Raised eyebrows can show empathy or submissiveness as well as surprise or emotions of fear. One raised eyebrow can indicate suspicion or uncertainty. However, it also can indicate a high level of confidence when teamed with a smile. Squinted eyebrows also can indicate a frustrated emotion or stress.


A wrinkled nose can insinuate a playful mood and also a certain level of confusion. The raising of the nose may indicate a level of dominance over another.

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