Science Has A Perfectly Reasonable Explanation For ‘Resting B*tch Face’

Senior Pop Culture Editor
02.03.16 5 Comments
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HBO

Anna Kendrick supposedly has it. So does Kristen Stewart. And Victoria Beckham. And Kanye West. “It” is lots of money, yes, but also Resting B*tch Face.

They don’t mean to look so unimpressed and pissed off; they’re just, in the words of Anna Paquin, “caught off guard and you’re not smiling, and it means you look really angry all the time, or like you want to kill people.”

But what causes RBF?

Behavior researchers Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth used FaceReader, which the Washington Post describes as a “a sophisticated tool engineered to identify specific expressions based on a catalogue of more than 10,000 images of human faces,” to answer that most important of questions.

FaceReader maps hundreds of points on the face and “assigns an expression based on eight basic human emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt, and neutral.” (It’s like Inside Out, minus Amy Poehler, whose Parks and Recreation co-star Aubrey Plaza is often accused of having a RBF that would make Queen Cersei proud.) People with Resting B*tch Faces show a higher level of emotion than those without it, with a “big change in percentage [for] contempt,” according to Macbeth.

The cues are understated, yet the machine detects and interprets them the same way our human brains do, she said. “Something in the neutral expression of the face is relaying contempt, both to the software and to us.” (Via)

MacBeth and Rogers also discovered that RBF is as common for men as it is women, who “have more pressure on them to be happy and smiley and to get along with others.” Curious to see how much of a Lucille Bluth and/or Jack White you are? E-mail a photo of your most neutral facial expression to jason@noldus.com, and FaceReader will diagnosis you on a scale from expressionless to Meredith Brooks.

(Via Washington Post)

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