People actually smile when they’re frustrated

London: It may be hard to believe but a new study has found that most people smile when they’re frustrated.

MIT researchers also found that computers programmed with the latest information from this research can do a better job of differentiating smiles of delight and frustration than human observers do, the Daily Mail reported.

The research could pave the way for computers that better assess the emotional states of their users and respond accordingly.

It could also help train those who have difficulty interpreting expressions, such as people with autism, to more accurately gauge the expressions they see.

“The goal is to help people with face-to-face communication,” Lead researcher Ehsan Hoque said.

In experiments conducted at MIT’s Media Lab, people were first asked to act out expressions of delight or frustration, as webcams recorded their expressions.

Then, they were either asked to fill out an online form designed to cause frustration or invited to watch a video designed to elicit a delighted response- also while being recorded.

When asked to feign frustration, Hoque said, 90 percent of subjects did not smile. But when presented with a task that caused genuine frustration - filling out a detailed online form, only to then find the information deleted after pressing the ‘submit’ button - 90 percent of them did smile.

Still images showed little difference between these frustrated smiles and the delighted smiles elicited by a video of a cute baby.

But video analysis showed that the progression of the two kinds of smiles was quite different: Often, the happy smiles built up gradually, while frustrated smiles appeared quickly but faded fast.

In such experiments, researchers usually rely on acted expressions of emotion, Hoque said, which may provide misleading results.

He said the acted data was much easier to classify accurately’ than the real responses - but when trying to interpret images of real responses, people performed no better than chance, assessing these correctly only about 50 percent of the time, much worse than MIT’s computer.

Hoque said understanding the subtleties that reveal underlying emotions is a major goal of this research.

In addition to providing training for people who have difficulty with expressions, the findings may be of interest to marketers, Hoque said.

The analysis could also be useful in creating computers that respond in ways appropriate to the moods of their users.