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Facial Expression Expert's Trick For Spotting A Psychopath In Less Than A Second

Photo: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels
trick for spotting psychopath eyes facial expression expert

A facial expression expert has revealed the best way that someone can spot a psychopath by simply spotting how their face falls when they're not being expressive.

In a viral TikTok video, Annie Sarnbald, a global speaker, expert in reading facial expressions, and author of "Diary of a Human Lie Detector: Facial Expressions in Love, Lust, & Lies," shared a common expression that most people do that can be an indicator someone has psychopathic tendencies.

Sarnblad claimed that a psychopath's eyes are usually wide with fear all of the time.

She explained during an interview with Lewis Howes, host of the podcast "The School of Greatness," that when the average person gets scared, something frightening happens, or they receive shocking news, their eyes usually get big and round.

"If I'm in a scary situation, something scares me or suddenly jumps out, or there's a loud noise, I'm gonna pull my upper eyelids back like crazy," Sarnblad pointed out, demonstrating how her eyes will grow wide with fear or shock.

Howes agreed, calling them "crazy eyes," which Sarnblad acknowledged only ever happens with the average person when something startles them.



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"The only time we will pull our upper eyelids back and hold them is [on] roller coasters, haunted house. You know, terror. We never hold our upper eyelids pulled way back except when you're nuts," she continued. "There's a lot of people in the public eye, if you look at the pictures of them, mugshots, they're always showing their sclera."

Sarnblad claimed that the reason psychopaths usually have their eyes pulled open wide, even if nothing terrifying or unnerving is happening, has to do with their mental instability and volatility.

In her line of work, Sarnblad has done extensive amounts of research on the facial expressions of psychopaths and serial killers. With people who have committed heinous crimes, in almost 20% to 30% of their photos or mugshots, they're all holding their eyelids all the way back.

Studies have found that a psychopath's pupils don't react in the same way that an average person's pupils would.

In a study published in the journal Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, which involved 82 male mentally disordered offenders, researchers examined how their pupils reacted to visual images of real-world scenes, auditory sound clips, and videos of dynamic facial expressions.

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While some of the photos were of nice things, like puppies, there were other more graphic and violent images. Both psychopaths and non-psychopaths were watched closely, and the results showed that while the pupils of non-psychopaths eyes dilated when viewing something scary, the psychopaths' pupils did not.

Many experts have long found that psychopaths don't experience the same range of emotions that the average person does. 

"Psychopaths are more likely to be thrill seekers and more likely to push the envelope on life," Adrian Raine, an expert on psychopathy, told Insider. "You know, do daring things. It's because they lack fear and they lack conscience. If we thought about doing something a little bit scary, we'd get scared."

While not all psychopaths or people with psychopathic tendencies turn out to be serial killers or commit heinous crimes, it's much easier for them to "act in a cold-blooded manner" because of their lack of emotions, especially fear, according to expert Robert Snowden while speaking with Insider.

"Many psychopathic offenders appear to be bold, confident, and can act in a cold-blooded manner," said Snowden. "It's much easier to act bold if you have no feelings of fear, and to be cold-blooded if there is no emotion to get in the way of the act."

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.