Now we know
If you know the feeling of being asked if you’re in a mood all too well, there’s a good chance you suffer with the affliction commonly known as Resting Bitch Face.
The term describes a person who’s neutral expression is one that’s perceived as being grumpy, when really it’s just the way their face is and they’re really feeling quite happy today (although Miranda Priestly might be an exception). Or at least, they were until you started asking them why they were in such a bad mood.
Researchers at Noldus Information Technology decided to look into why exactly we perceive some people’s resting expression as being ‘moody’, but not others. During the study, researchers used a high-tech computer, known as the Noldus FaceReader, to identify levels of specific emotions.
Those with ‘Resting Bitch Face’ were those who’s neutral expression had a low level of contempt – enough for people to identify and potentially take offence, but not enough to class their expression as one of pure contempt. So, that’s why our brains sometimes think somebody looks a bit irritated when nothing is actually wrong.
Now for the good part: While it’s usually women who are branded as having Resting Bitch Face, researchers confirmed that both men and women suffer from it. ‘[Smiling more] is something that’s expected from women far more than it’s expected from men’ researcher Abbe Macbeth says.
‘[It] isn’t something that occurs more in women but we’re more attuned to notice it because women have more pressure on them to be happy and smiley and to get along with others.’
So, next time someone mentions your Resting Bitch Face? Tell them to stop pressuring you to smile.
Now, leave us to look grumpy in peace, please.