Your body, not face reveals what you are feeling

London: It is a person's body that gives away what they are thinking, not their facial expression, researchers say.

When men and women were given photos of individuals and asked to judge the emotion shown, they did badly when just given head and shoulders shots. With images of the whole person, they did much better, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

sraeli and American researchers began by showing volunteers pictures taken of professional tennis players including Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal as they experienced the highs and lows of winning and losing points at Wimbledon.

Given the faces alone, the couldn't tell the winners from the losers.

However, with a face and body, or just the body, they could easily tell who was victorious. The key seemed to be in the players' hands, with a clenched fist denoting a win and splayed fingers a loss.

To widen the experiment, volunteers were shown pictures of people experiencing a range of emotions, from the joy of seeing one's house after a lavish makeover, to the grief of attending a funeral.

Again, participants were poor judges when simply shown the faces. In fact, they often rated the happy expressions more negatively than the sad ones.

To further prove that it is the body and not the face that is key in expression emotion, the researchers created fake photos in which a happy face was planted on a sad body and vice versa. Again, it was the body that was the giveaway.

Researchers said that when our feelings are very intense, our facial muscles may do a poor job of expressing our emotions.

 "Much like speakers blaring at maximum volume, the quality of the facial signal becomes degraded and noisy," they wrote in the journal Science.

"Western society has the idea that the most important source of information is the face. The research says maybe we should zoom out and try to take a broader look. Emotions happen to the whole person," lead researcher Dr Hillel Aviezer, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said.

"The results may help researchers understand how body/face expressions interact during emotional situations," Aviezer said.

He added that reading faces is still important when trying to distinguish more subtle emotions.