Fake Smile Test

Status: Psychology test
image I've linked to a fake smile test before, but this one hosted by the BBC (and designed by Professor Paul Ekman, from the University of California) is more elaborate since it allows you to see actual video clips of people smiling. I did quite badly at differentiating the real from the fake, scoring only 9 out of 20. The blurb at the conclusion of the test notes that "Most people are surprisingly bad at spotting fake smiles. One possible explanation for this is that it may be easier for people to get along if they don't always know what others are really feeling." That made me feel a bit better. The blurb also explains that "when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold - the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid - moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly." However, I don't think knowing that will significantly improve anyone's score on the test.


Posted on Tue Nov 15, 2005


I got 15 out of 20!!!
Posted by thephrog  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  10:33 PM
15/20 aint too shabby (my score too), though, I wonder how they got the images of the real smiles... point a camera at the subject and tell a joke?... how do they know if a smile really is a real smile... I can move my eye color fold pretty much at will, though it might be hard for me to get the timing right... a trained actor could probably do it easily... is uppose it is a good tip though... I'll be shure to try and incorperate it into my future fake similes
Posted by mormagli  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  10:39 PM
I got 18 out of 20 - it's definitely in the eyes.
Posted by Carrie  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  06:34 AM
nice job
Posted by mormagli  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  08:54 AM
14 out of 20 for me.
Posted by andy  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  09:50 AM
17 correct - it is the eyes you have to watch
Posted by Chris  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  10:28 AM
12 out of 20 here.
Posted by Winona  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  11:06 AM
I agree its the eyes I got 15 right. :cheese:
Posted by Iridium  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  12:06 PM
Also dont you think they were some very odd looking people in the test?.
Posted by Iridium  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  12:08 PM
I got 16, and I agree with Iidium, some of those people were rather strange looking.
Posted by Cathy  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  01:25 PM
14/20, not *too* shabby. Some I was on the fence about, and in those cases I gave them a 'fake' rating. It seems to be all in the eyes. I think they had some 'strange' looking people and a variety of ethnicities to throw the viewer off. Pscyhologically, most are able to discern the genuineness of an expression of your own race, or from races you see more often.
Posted by Seth Easton  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  01:42 PM
I suck, I only got 10 right.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  01:46 PM
i got 15 right as well. i really didn't think that i would do well because those people were kind of funny looking and hard to read.
Posted by Bria Neuenschwander  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  02:27 PM
I got 9 out of 20, but that's assuming that all the fakers were REALLY faking, which i'm not about to accept. I believe I actually got 18 out of 20, and that the smilers were actually lying to the testers.
PS- Watch the weird looking comments. That's my sister in the test with the vampire teeth and the shaved sides of the head. She's looks JUST LIKE MAMA.
Posted by booch  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  02:43 PM
17/20. Not bad I suppose. I was looking at the eyes for each one. I did wonder too, if they were all fake, but it still got me.
Posted by Benjamin Marshall  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  02:44 PM
i scored a 14 out of 20, i thought this was supposed to be hard!
Posted by Danny  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  03:36 PM
I got 18 out of 20. I heard a long time ago you could tell a real smile by watching someone's eyes.
Posted by Saribellum  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  07:57 PM
Oh my gosh, 20 out of 20!It's totally in the eyes.
Posted by Chickadee  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  08:38 AM
What does everyone's stellar performance here (significantly better than chance on average) say given that "[m]ost people are surprisingly bad at spotting fake smiles"?

(I got 15 out of 20 with 3 on the fences and 1 where I was totally distracted by the guy's crossed eyes.)
Posted by beowulf  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  10:45 AM
16/20 Eyes & head movement tell.
Posted by Eric  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  01:40 PM
19/20 baby.

The fake smiles make people look like jerks, the real ones make people look nice. It is definitely in the eyes.

No wonder I think so many people are jerks.
Posted by the  on  Fri Nov 18, 2005  at  11:45 AM
Posted by Nighthawk  on  Tue Nov 29, 2005  at  09:28 PM

I assumed that all the women who smiled were faking, as that is what happens to me in real life. And I was right 66% of the time. 😊
Posted by DFStuckey  on  Sat Dec 03, 2005  at  08:16 PM
cool test!!
Posted by Nicole Gretes  on  Tue Dec 06, 2005  at  07:52 PM
17/20 jus looked for how quickly they stopped smiling....yeh i know its cheap but it works
Posted by Alex  on  Thu Jan 05, 2006  at  08:01 AM
💋 I have got 16 out of 20, As i have seen most of the comments but I have noticed most of them by there Lips. May be I am wrong.
Posted by Vishal Vohra  on  Tue Apr 25, 2006  at  05:01 AM
Woot!! 19/20 They eyes give it away. At least all those years in door to door sales have finally paid off.
Posted by Lounge Lizard  on  Fri Aug 25, 2006  at  11:19 AM
woohoo! I got 18/20! Mostly by my own reaction, whether I wanted to smile back or not. darn, got two wrong 😕
Posted by emma  on  Tue Oct 24, 2006  at  01:19 AM
i read somewhere that a fake smile fades faster than real ones, i tried that and got 17 right :D
Posted by Cathy  on  Sat Dec 02, 2006  at  09:01 PM
Got 18 out of 20!

Eyes give it away everytime. It gives away that 'you bug me, so go away' look.
Posted by Carter S  on  Mon Dec 04, 2006  at  09:54 AM
18/20! woah.. such an interesting design from Mr.Paul Ekman.. Now i can use it psychologically.. cheers mate!
Posted by johnbaem  on  Tue Jul 22, 2008  at  06:41 PM

does being pessimistic or optimistic have anything to do with the result?
Posted by khalil  on  Sun Sep 14, 2008  at  12:26 AM
Khalil, yes, it might . . . depressed people tend to project their feelings upon other people and this colours their perception. I know when I am down, even the most charming of my friends 'seems' to be making an effort when she smiles, but she is being genuine.
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Sun Sep 14, 2008  at  01:00 AM
right? because the way i see it, is that people who tend to be pessimistic always tend to pre-analyze situations and people at the same time, where they can instantly know the truth behind most of these situations and how these people reacted to it.

thanks for your thoughtfull view
Posted by khalil  on  Sun Sep 14, 2008  at  05:24 PM
Got 17/20 correct. I guess it's true that the eyes are the window to the soul.
Posted by Bill  on  Fri Jan 30, 2009  at  09:56 PM
First time I got a 9 out of 20, without looking at the answers i just read the blurb at the end. Then I did the test again with what I Learned and got a 19 out of 20. remind you I did not look at the answers. all I did was look at the eyes and eye brow the 2nd time.
Posted by Brandon Davis  on  Thu Mar 04, 2010  at  01:10 PM
19/20 eyes are telling a whole story
Posted by fedor  on  Tue Sep 21, 2010  at  05:18 PM
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