December 28, 2016 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Donald Trump has a very distinctive facial expression, sort of a pout with teeth barred. Today I saw a tabloid with images of some famous people where one (the bad guy) showed lower teeth, and another (nice guy) showed upper teeth. What is going on with these mouths? I react to them, but I don't know why.

I tried to do the different expressions in the mirror and realized they don't all come naturally. How does one get there? And again: why?

This is not about politics - I guess more about anthropology, though I have no idea who would know about this..
posted by mumimor to Human Relations (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
here's some info about microexpressions, which are species universal:
the distinct trump facial expression you are describing seems to be a microexpression of contempt or disgust.

if you google "[name of emotion] microexpressions" you'll get tons of examples and recognize the trends immediately. the reason we react to these expressions emotionally is because our brains know them very well, even if subconsciously. the whole value of microexpressions as an investigative tool, in order to determine if someone is credible, is that they are so quick and instinctive they are extremely difficult for someone to fake. unless you are concentrating on imitating a disgust expression, you won't be able to just do it naturally; you have to actually feel disgust, or think about something that disgusts you. this is how some actors get good, they find their own motivation to get a desired outcome in their face and body language.
posted by zdravo at 1:44 PM on December 28, 2016 [10 favorites]

Intentionally baring the bottom teeth is also interesting because it's a very aging expression. As we age, the face falls a bit to expose more of the bottom teeth as we speak instead of a more youthful presentation of the top teeth. There are teeth augmentations and plastic surgeries that some employ to reverse this. As Trump seems quite vain (the fake tan, makeup, and hair color and augmentation), it seems strange to me that he's settled on an expression that is the opposite of youthful.
posted by quince at 2:04 PM on December 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

+1 on the microexpression thing. Aren't certain groups of people (such as those diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum) thought to have trouble interpreting and making microexpressions? Might this also be true for people with other diagnoses?
posted by christopherious at 4:49 PM on December 28, 2016

It's a weird Hapsburg/Mussolini face he makes because he thinks it looks distinguished and stern. Same thing with the pursed lips. Meant to look serious, comes off sour or fussy.

The molerat smirk is when he's trying to do that but can't suppress his smugness. Harvey Keitel does a similar jerkface sometimes.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:53 PM on December 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

What about this clip (via), in which he seems to have been caught off-guard? Offensive and defensive expressions.
posted by christopherious at 11:53 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dangit, this thread has me missing Lie to Me all over again.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 6:54 AM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

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