Reading Emotions: Concentration

How can we tell when someone is thinking hard about a question?

There are some simple signs when a person’s mind is really working – when a problem holds their attention completely. It takes effort, and we often see this in movement in the mouth and the brow.

Amanda is looking directly at John, but we can see by her gaze that her brain is fully engaged. As she reflects on the question, she glances away and then back. The combination of working her mouth, and her steady gaze shows she is completely absorbed in thinking about the issue.

She also nods to indicate that she is considering the question carefully.

Signs to note

  • a steady gaze
  • compresses her lips and pulls mouth to the side
  • shifts gaze briefly to the side
  • chews her lip
  • nods

By John Habershon

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Dr John Habershon has spent many hundreds of hours conducting in-depth interviews during his career in consumer and social research. Over the last eight years he has analysed the nonverbal responses captured on video on a wide range of topics, ranging from favorite products and advertising on TV, to bereavement and stress at work. He became involved in work for those on the autism spectrum through friends with Asperger's in the family and has created Emotions Reader, (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/readingemotionssystem) an interactive program with quizzes to help users identify facial expressions. John has a long standing interest in understanding emotions, having gained his PhD on the psychological effects of unemployment at Imperial College, London University. He has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. http://www.momentumresearch.co.uk/

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