Raising Eyebrows. To lift the arch of short hairs above the eye, as in uncertainty, disbelief, surprise, or exasperation. Raising the eyebrows adds intensity to a facial expression. Brow-raising can strengthen a dominant stare, exaggerate a submissive pout, or boost the energy of a smile. In tandem with head-tilt-back, raising one or both eyebrows suggests a supercilious air of disdain, haughtiness, or pride.
Lowering Eyebrows. To frown or scowl, as in anger, concentration, displeasure, or thought. To depress, knit, pucker, or wrinkle the brow. Lowering the eyebrows is a sensitive indicator of disagreement, doubt, or uncertainty.
Down Gaze. Rotating the eyeballs in their sockets to a downward position, or bowing or tilting the head forward so that the eyes face the downward. May convey a defeated attitude, guilt, shame, or submissiveness. Gazing down while speaking shows that a speaker may not believe his or her own remarks. Blushing. Becoming red or rosy in the face from physical exercise, embarrassment, shyness, anger, or shame. Blushing is caused by sudden arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, which dilates the small blood vessels of the face and body. Flushing, contrary to popular belief, is never seen in a purely aggressive individual; it is a sign of actual or possible defeat.
Flashbulb Eyes. An involuntary and dramatic widening of the eyes, performed in situations of intense emotion, such as anger, surprise, and fear. When we are truly surprised, rather than feigning the emotion for effect, two involuntary visceral muscles in our eyelids, the superior and inferior tarsals, widen our eye slits to make the eyes appear noticeably rounder, larger, and whiter. As visceral signs, true flashbulb eyes are difficult to produce at will. Thus, they are all the more trustworthy as nonverbal cues, especially of terror or rage. In angry individuals, flashbulb eyes are a danger sign of imminent verbal aggression or physical attack.
Blank Face. A neutral, relaxed, seemingly "expressionless" face, with the eyes open and lips closed. The deadpan face we adopt at home alone while resting, reading, and watching TV. Though "expressionless," the blank face sends a strong emotional message "Do Not Disturb." In shopping malls, elevators, or subways, we adopt neutral faces to distance ourselves from strangers. The blank face is a subtle sign used to keep others a polite distance away.
Head Tilted Back. Lifting the chin and leaning the head backward. Lifting the chin and looking down the nose are used throughout the world as nonverbal signs of superiority, arrogance, and disdain. In Greece and Saudi Arabia, a sudden head-tilt-back movement means "No." In Ethiopia, the same gesture means "Yes."
Bending Away. Flexing the spinal column sideward to increase the physical distance between two people to enlarge or exaggerate the body's size to dominate, threaten, or bluff an opponent.
Decision Grip. A manner of grasping an object securely between the inner surfaces of the fingers and the palm. A clear indication of ownership.