I think I pointed up before that I suspect I'm one of the "naturals" who can recognize deception or subterfuge, or hidden/unrecognized emotions. As portrayed on the Fox TV show Lie to Me, people "like me," and the far better/more talented staff members on the show, sometimes have natural abilities in this regard, but all can receive training to better-recognize deception. As most of these trainings, and the show, are television/video or internet-based, there's definitely an "x-factor" present in in-person contacts that I'm not sure can be "trained" or prepared-for much in advance. If you're interested, there is an online training in 3 different versions and price ranges available from Dr. Paul Ekman, whose work in identifying microexpressions gave rise to the popular TV show. In today's economy, this could be $20 to $69 very well-spent.
Here's a group photo from the famous legal drama 12 Angry Men, starring Henry Fonda. Henry Fonda is the tall, dark-haired man with a slightly receding hairline in the center of the photo. This is a jury, brought together after plenty of ANGER (see title) about a young man accused of murdering his own father by a decent, thoughtful juror portrayed by Henry Fonda.
What emotions do I read in this picture? Well, starting with Henry Fonda, he appears surprised and somewhat irritated. In the lower right of the picture, with a thick, dark head of hair and narrow dark tie, is one half of the popular 70's sitcom The Odd Couple, Jack Klugman. One would have to have considerable facial recognition disability to not see that he is completely dismayed, more than slightly angry, and cynical ("I can't BELIEVE this B.S.") at whatever has happened. Now, there are ELEVEN of the twelve men in this photo - one well-known actor is missing: Lee J. Cobb. So obviously, this is one of the key moments where Lee J. Cobb, who serves as the antagonist to good, decent Henry Fonda, is being . . . what's the technical term - a DICK on the jury. This film and the original stage play explored racial prejudice and "being a dick on the jury" in a very honest, moving and dramatic way.
The younger man standing to Henry Fonda's left in the photo is actor Robert Webber, and I believe his expression could best be described as "cynical irritation" - and he looks as though whatever Juror #12 Lee J. Cobb said, was fully-expected by him in advance, and he isn't paying attention to a word of it. The "gray flannel suit" guy in the glasses to Henry Fonda's right is portrayed by great actor Edward G. Marshall. Of all in the picture, his expression is most-difficult to decipher; however, this appears to be the expression that a well-mannered, socially acceptable man gives when confronted with emotional bohonky. He does not believe what the speaker (I'm assuming Lee J. Cobb) is saying. In the rear, an older gentleman has a downturned mouth and disgusted expression -- this is Ed Begley, Sr., whose son Ed Begley, Jr. currently has the "green" reality TV show and appeared in many films and TV shows from the 70s through 90s. I don't think he looks angry, though, or disbelieving, like Webber and Marshall (and Klugman). I think he looks somewhat sympathetic to the speaker. His eyes are wide and he looks like he is receptive. I think the guy in the hat on the far left is Jack Warden, whose face is more familiar to me from later television shows - but the expression isn't hard to decipher: "I don't give a damn - what now?" One dark face toward the right rear of the photo is Martin Balsam - he is supposed to be the jury foreman! What can be seen of the face says, "Let me out of here! Where's the exit?"
There's no training or coaching in the world that can assist someone speaking about an important matter on TV, or much less in person, to radiate genuine sincerity. Some people, like former President Bill Clinton, were inborn with the talent to inspire others that they are speaking sincerely, truthfully and empathetically. As those who dislike former President Clinton frequently point up - he was an extraordinarily skilled liar. I'm not one of those who disliked, or currently dislike, him. I like the guy, and always have. Because what his critics do not understand (and history has borne out) - if he wanted to take the time to "fool" people that he cared about them, why? Because on some level, he did and does care. I know that some feel he was a sociopath, but that is impossible. No "sociopath" would love his daughter the way he does. Sociopaths by definition, cannot feel genuine love. All of their emotions are faux and it can be seen in their eyes. Like - bad actors. They are also very easily identified on video which emphasizes the subtle lacks that they can't imitate that real people have. The best actors, and this 12 Angry Men picture shows twelve of them, are almost the opposite of sociopaths. They are empathetic enough to convincingly portray real emotions in "pretend" dramatic situations.
So here's the 12th juror - the great actor Lee J. Cobb. This might even be "the other side of the photo" - what they were all looking at. Lee J. Cobb portrays the antagonist on the jury, a man whose terrible personal experiences make him predisposed to find the accused young defendant guilty of murdering his own father.
I can relate to Lee J. If I somehow got on a jury where someone was accused of falsifying information to "frame" any number of others and committing limitless acts of fraud, I'd be so inclined to believe all evidence against them, pretty darn angry, and eager to point at my fellow jurors and inform them of what I'd personally suffered. That's exactly what's going on here. Lee J. Cobb is telling the other 11 they don't understand what he does, and don't know how treacherous bad kids can be. He's emphasizing this with his finger (pointing is always bad when trying to convince others, by the way - why doesn't someone tell that to politicians?) and his face is hurt, shamed - and powerfully enraged - look at those flared nostrils and downturned mouth. Lee J. Cobb - world class actor. These great actors could "be" these emotions, to convince everyone, "naturals" at facial recognition or not.