There has been an increased interest in multiple dimensions of intelligence. This paper seeks to link intelligence to Micro-Expression. More specifically with Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Cultural Intelligence (CQ), and People Intelligence (PQ).

Micro-Expressions are often expressed involuntarily by humans on their faces based on the emotions experienced. These brief involuntary facial expressions are often expressed by individuals in situations where they feel they will either gain or lose. People express these expressions when they consciously make attempts to conceal their feelings or think about their feelings (Freitas-Magalhães, 2012; Ekman, 2003). They are brief in duration and last between half a second to several seconds. These expressions can be labeled, spotted and expressed in the same way basic emotions such as anger, contempt, surprise, sadness, joy, and fear are expressed (Ekman, 1999). According to Ekman (1992), basic and universal emotions including shame, fear, disgust, anger, happiness, surprise, sadness and anxiety are expressed in these Micro-Expressions. Ekman (1999) expanded the list of negative and positive emotions including that are aroused when individuals are exposed to certain situations: embarrassment, shame, relief, pride, pleasure, contentment, content amusement, pride, guilt, and anxiety. Ekman (1999) revealed that universally, people tend to express similar emotions whenever they are exposed to situations that provoke such emotions.

Micro-Expressions are classified into three depending on how they are modified by situations: simulated expressions, neutralized expressions, and masked expressions. Simulated expressions are Micro-Expressions that are not accompanied by non-genuine emotions. They are expressed as brief flashes of an expression. Neutralized expressions occur following the suppression of a genuine expression with the face remaining neutral. The successful suppression of neutralized expression makes it difficult for another person to observe them (Ekman & Friesen, 2003). On the other hand, masked expressions occur when a falsified expression completely masks a genuine expression. People tend to hide, either consciously or subconsciously, masked expressions (Ekman, & Friesen, 2003).

It can be hard to explicitly pick up and understand involuntary facial expressions. Goleman (1995) believes that these expressions are recorded and recognized in the unconscious mind as implicit competence. Goleman (1995) further believes that individuals have the capacity to recognize their own Micro-Expressions and emotions of other people and to introspectively discriminate these emotions based on such feelings. In EQ, empathy and reporting are guided by an unconscious synchrony referred to as attunement (Goleman, 1995). According to Goleman (1995) attunement relies on non-verbal communication. Involuntary behavior may be elicited by facial expressions in a process referred to as looping. Research on motor mimicry has revealed that neurons often display facial expressions through muscles in the face. It is believed that this occurs when neurons pick up facial expressions, which are then communicated to motor neurons that control the way muscles are expressed in the face. This suggests that an individual who tries to remain neutral in his or her Micro-Expression can be provoked to produce a smile by another individual displaying a smile in his or her face (Goleman, 2006). These involuntary habits, emotions, and functions take place when amygdala hijacks the pre-frontal cortex thereby impairing the better judgment and rationality (Goleman, 1995). This demonstrates how sensory memory and involuntary behavior can be interpreted and executed by the bottom brain. This demonstrates the role played by Micro-Expressions in attunement. It also reveals how one can interpret Micro-Expressions. Micro-Expressions of a hidden emotion that is displayed on a person will tend to induce same emotions in a process that Goleman (2006) referred to as emotional contagion. Individuals will the ability to introspect these Micro-Expressions have high EQ. Such individuals are believed to have the ability to read accurately and interpret emotions.


Emotions are data for making decisions, for protecting us, for initiating action, and for understanding others and oneself. Emotional Quotient and Emotional Intelligence are often used interchangeably to refer to an individuals’ ability to understand and recognize their emotions and those of other people, and the ability of people to manage their relationships and behavior by utilizing this awareness. Since its introduction by John Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990, EQ has become one of the most controversial and widely investigated constructs in psychology (Zeidner, Matthews, & Roberts, 2009). The development of measuring instruments that can reliably measure EQ has also been problematic (Conte, 2005). Among the many EQ theories, Mayer and Salovey (1997)’s ability-based model has the strongest empirical and theoretical basis. The strength of this model includes the objective nature of measuring EQ and the low redundancy between the traditional concept of intelligence (Intelligence Quotation [IQ]) and personality.

The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) test is believed to be valid in predicting the effectiveness of interpersonal and social activities (Zeidner, Matthews, & Roberts, 2009). Mayer and Salovey’s (1997) model identifies four branches of EQ: emotional facilitation of thinking; appraisal, perception, the perception of emotion; employing emotional knowledge and analysis and understanding emotions; and reflective regulation of emotions. Each of these branches describes emotional abilities. Abilities constituting the four branches are vital in emotional deception detection.

It is suggested that Emotional Intelligence can facilitate the recognition of Micro-Expressions and the detection of a lie. It is believed that an individual with high EQ can read Micro-Expressions and interpret them and that this is an important part of reading people and understanding nonverbal behavior (Pazian, 2014).

Existing research have shown that by reading and interpreting universal Micro-Expressions, including anger, fear, contempt, surprise, happiness, sadness and disgust, one can detect whether someone is lying or telling the truth (Wojciechowski, Stolarski, & Matthews, 2014). Wojciechowski, Stolarski, and Matthews (2014) examined whether individuals with high EQ can effectively detect emotional liars. It was revealed that individuals that demonstrate superior emotional perceptionsare more adept at detecting deception through the identification of mismatch between verbal messages and facial messages. Wojciechowski, Stolarski, and Matthews (2014) identified two personal factors believed to predict such abilities: high EQ and female gender. The analysis of Face Decoding Test confirmed the correlation between superior face decoding and EQ. results also confirmed gender differences in EQ with females found to have higher EQ than males. Results also revealed that integration of cognitive and emotional cues are core attributes of EQ and these attributes make it possible for the individual with high EQ to detect deception.

Elsewhere, Mayer, DiPaolo, and Salovey (1990) consider an individual’s ability to identify emotions in other individuals as the core ability of EQ. According to Mayer, DiPaolo and Salovey (1990), this ability is necessary though not sufficient for unmasking emotional liars and detecting emotional leakages. Mayer, DiPaolo and Salovey (1990) argue that without an effective perception of another person’s emotions, an individual may not be able to effectively detect emotional deceit in another person. For Mayer and Salovey (1997) an individual with high EQ can discriminate between dishonest and honest expressions of feelings. As noted by Mayer and Salovey (1997), an individual with emotional skills should also have the ability to make use of emotion in directing attention to important information. This process, also referred to as emotional facilitation of thoughts, may be used to support and improve the basic emotional perception skills. It is also important to recognize that having emotional understanding abilities, including having the ability to recognize relations between emotions and words may help an individual in interpreting the meaning that is conveyed by emotions regarding interpersonal interactions, and in recognizing transitions among emotions (Mayer, & Salovey, 1997). This emotional reasoning process is particularly important in cases where an individual is required to combine the verbal expressions of an interlocutor with information emerging from the facial expressions of the interlocutor (Vrij & Mann, 2004).

Studies by Porter et al. (2011) and Elfenbein et al. (2010) examined EQ within the context of deception. Porter et al. (2011) found that individuals with a high ability to express and perceive emotions have the ability to convincingly feign emotions than other individuals. However, it was noted that individual with these abilities do not have the ability to prevent emotional leakage. Elfenbein et al. (2010) found similar results. However, Elfenbein et al. (2010) only measured emotion recognition ability but not the overall EQ. In another study, Baker, ten Brinke and Porter (2012) examined whether high EQ was a defining characteristic of a “detection wizard”. Results showed that total EQ score and discrimination of lies and truth were not related. However, the perception score was found to be negatively associated with the detection of deceptive targets. In this study, the experimental design was specific and involved engaging real-life videos of people who were emotionally pleading for the missing family members to return safely. Half of these people played a significant role in the murder (disappearance) of the missing ones. This study, therefore, considered liars and high-stakes emotional deceptions.

It has been suggested that there are gender differences in the cognitive-emotional processes. It is believed that females have higher EQ than males (Van Rooy, Alonso, & Viswevaran, 2005). It is argued that females are superior to males when it comes to the detection of deceptions in their romantic partners (McCornack & Parks, 1990). It is believed that this is because women are superior when it comes to reading facial expressions and other nonverbal cues than men. Women are also believed to be superior when it comes to experimental “mind-reading tasks”, including a feeling of an acquaintance and inferring the thoughts (Thomas & Fletcher, 2003). Women are also believed to be superior in perceptual sensitivity and to have subtle non-verbal affective signals (Donges, Kersting, & Suslow, 2012). They tend to have a keen interest in nonverbal cues (Hurd & Noller, 1988).


Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is an individual’s capability to effectively work, relate and interact with people in culturally diverse contexts. Individuals with high CQ have the capability to successfully achieve their objectives within culturally diverse context. Such people have CQ Drive, CQ knowledge, CQ Action and CQ Strategy (Van Dyne, Ang, Ng, Rockstuhl, Tan, & Koh, 2012). Cultural Intelligence (CQ) impacts the person’s ability to interact with different cultures in an effective manner. It enables an individual to work and relate effectively across culture (James, Lenartowicz, & Apud, 2006). This tool can help improve an individual’s performance in different cultural settings and identify meanings that could be misunderstood or lost in translation in non-verbal behavior.

Ekman (2003) sheds light on how individuals from different cultures react differently to similar events. Ekman (2003) identified emotional triggers that elicit emotions whenever an individual encounters different situations: universal triggers, unique triggers and other triggers. Universal triggers elicit similar emotional in all individuals regardless of culture or personality. On the other hand unique triggers elicit different emotions in people depending on how they were socialized (i.e., personality and culture). For example, individuals from certain culture may be irritated by people speaking loudly while people from other cultures find it acceptable. While some cultures fear oceans, others seek to explore them. In Ekman (2003)’s view these variances are the result of how individual were socialized. There are other triggers (e.g., post-traumatic stress) that are rooted in the individual’s unique experience and personality. They understand and appreciate remarkable differences in people who are from different cultures. Ekman (1992) confirmed that that people from different cultures universally express Micro-Expressions: fear, happiness, surprise, disgust, anger sadness, and contempt. It is further argued that individuals with high CQ have same social sensibilities while relating and interacting with individuals from diverse cultures who display different and unique emotions in ways that are not familiar with them.


People Intelligence (PQ) indicates the individual’s capacity to work and relate with other people. PQ has three aspects: self-management; openness to others; and interpersonal effectiveness. People with high PQ are known to work well with people. They create a shared meaning, inspire and motivate others to work together as a team in order to actualize reality. They are self-aware and know their weaknesses and strengths. They have the ability to use their strengths to address or compensate for their weaknesses.

The Big Five personality traits, or the Five Factor Model (FFM) is a well-known model that describes personality. The model was initially proposed by Tupes & Christal (1961) and later improved by Digman (1990). The five factors are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism, also known as OCEAN. Openness is the curiosity to experience something new; Conscientiousness is the tendency to be either organized or careless; Extraversion explains whether the person is outgoing or socially reserved; Agreeableness describes friendliness or compassion against being detached; and Neuroticism is about being sensitive or nervous against being secure and confident.

It is believed that an individual’s PQ is determined by factors such as experience, skills, social network, knowledge and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) (Ekman, Friesen, & O’Sullivan, 1988). It is also argued that people with high EQ have high PQ and have the capability to discriminate genuine facial expressions to fake ones (Ekman, Friesen, & O’Sullivan, 1988). It has been suggested that Micro-Expressions can use used for authenticity judgment (i.e., genuine and fake smiles) (Skinner, & Mullen, 1993; Frank, Ekman, & Friesen, 1993; Schmidt, Bhattacharya, & Denlinger, 2009).


A review of related literature has found links between Micro-Expression and human intelligence in the form of EQ, CQ and PQ. Understanding this concept could help detecting lies and avoiding deception. Applications of this technique are in interview techniques and criminal investigation that could allow the investigator to catch the liars. Not able to identify subtle non-verbal behavior could have disastrous consequences.


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