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Reading People's Emotions

  1. Jun 24, 2006 #1
    I wasn't sure whether to put this in S&D, but here we go.

    I've found that I have a really strange ability to tell what people are feeling/thinking. It doesn't occur with everyone, sometimes it happens straight away, sometimes after I have known them for a while. Often I meet someone and just unexplainably get a really bad feeling about them, and so far its always turned out to be justified. There are some people that I know straight away whether they are telling the truth or not, but they can get away with lying to everyone else. I'm 21, and this has only started over the last few years. It often scares me when I meet someone that seems nice and then I get this overwhelming feeling of disgust towards them, but nevertheless, I've learned to trust it.

    Now, I don't think this is any sort of psychic ability, but the way these feelings come to me often reminds me of that sort of thing. My theory about this is that my sub-concious is picking up on something; body language, tone of voice etc. that I usually wouldn't be aware of. I know also that my mother has the same ability. I wonder if anyone else here experiences anything similar?
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  3. Jun 24, 2006 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Last edited: Jun 24, 2006
  4. Jun 24, 2006 #3
    I don't see anything mysterious here except your claim to be knowing what people are thinking. Being disgusted by people who are apparently nice is not too unusual when the "niceness" rings false and seems to cover alterior motives or darker emotions.

    As for knowing what people are thinking, this may or may not be mysterious depending on how specifically you mean it, and how much of what they're thinking is obvious from the context of the situation or conversation.
  5. Jun 25, 2006 #4
    Although i wont go into the details, i know personally who can demonstrate that chillingly, and it has interested me so. If you dont mind my asking kazza, are you male or female. Second, have you ever been able to "somewhat" see or predict something that might happen in the future?
  6. Jun 25, 2006 #5


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    It sounds like you are very good at picking up on nuances that others miss. I am the same way. I either like or dislike a person immediately and my "intuitions" are very rarely wrong. I can also size people up quickly over the phone.

    Unfortunately, I still let my emotions cloud my judgement at times.

    It's a great skill to have, you'll probably find that you get better at it as you get older.
  7. Jun 25, 2006 #6


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    Do humans give off any kind of chemical signal regarding what types of emotions they are experiencing? I know other animals do this, and I was certain I had seen this posited as an explanation for certain empathic abilities, though just the everyday type, not the extraordinary type, if I recall correctly.
  8. Jul 19, 2006 #7
    I have read articles that say that we do. For instance, I read an article in Discovery (meaning it is automatically more rumor than fact) that says that females release a chemical after sex that usually makes their male partner feel like trusting them more. They were talking about harnessing the chemical in order to help untrustworthy people (car salesman and the like) do their job by releasing it into the office air or something.

    Anyways, I do experience exactly the same thing you are experiencing. The problem is that emotions are not trustworthy...or sometimes they tell you mixed things and you need to try to use your intellect as much as possible to see past them. For example, last semester my "instincts" told me to watch out for this girl in my science class who appeared to have a crush on me (as you say, it picked up on something about her that made me uneasy)...then 5 minutes later, these same instincts told me "seems good, let's repopulate the planet with her." Clearly both impulses can't be correct.

    It turns out that the uneasy instinct was probably "correct," but I only know this *after* impulse number 2 had taken over and I got to know her behavior a bit better over a couple of months. I used to trust those instincts outright, but seeing as how if I did that I probably would never be social with anyone (living in LA, everyone is a potential creep) now I use them more as a guide. If I have a bad feeling at first I look closer at things to see if I can find more information that justifies that feeling. Of course, as someone said on here, you always run the danger of trying to make your own prophecy true when you do this...so I try to make sure I have plenty of evidence before I rush to judgement on something.

    I think the "feelings" or first impressions we get are based on instinct somewhat and the more experience we get the more information we have to feed those instincts (so I do think this aspect of us gets more and more dominant over our thinking with age). Be warned though, your instincts CAN mislead you into feeling a certain way about something irrespective of any facts or reality (TV ad execs bet on that).
  9. Aug 3, 2006 #8
    Odd that you consider this abnormal we all have this ability to one extent or another, after all most apsects of communication are non verbal, I seem to be able to tell if someone is lying or just joking or being positively delusional in what they believe about common instinctual interpritations of a situation, it would be hard to believe that some of these beneficial empathy traits weren't inherent in our genome at a subconcious level, after all I and we do this all the time. Sometimes we're right sometimes we're wrong but that's what makes the feed back loop of subconcious to conscious so interesting, the initial pattern of response and then the pattern that comes from experience; little is learnt from applying accepted intuition to situations, do some personal research and see where the hit and miss lead you, as has been said.

    Some psychics seem to think that there ability is paranormal because they devolve themself from what is really just a trained way to garner facts between the lines, if they were truly unusual or paranormal they would be able to prove it, but AFAIK no one has yet, and this goes for the broad realm of the sixth sense in all cases.

    Here's an example I once was show an experiment that alowed me to move a pendulum with my mind, I tried and I tried hard but came to the conclusion that although it had moved several times, it was in fact because, the experiment was set up in a null way, the floor boards under the table moved the pendulum as people walked passed, and they asked people questions at times when this was happening, in the same way experiments in research need to find out parameters that are simply devolved from a persons conscious beliefs and that are absolutes, of course, it would be a waste of time to apply experiments like this all the time, but when you can sit down and show people where their mistaken ideas come from, it's a fine way to progress in real research. If they are wrong there are funds waiting to be collected by those who are truly and exemplary psychics, but they wont be won by people with simple human skills like yourself.
  10. Aug 3, 2006 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    I find that an amazing number of people believe that they can tell when someone else is lying. Frankly, I don't believe it. If I think that someone thinks that I'm lying, it makes me feel like I'm lying, and then I probably exhibit body language that would indicate such.

    For example, if you are staring into someones eyes as if the person was being questioned in a murder investigation, an uncomfortable reaction is reasonably normal.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2006
  11. Aug 4, 2006 #10
    I agree completely: MI5 agents and police detectives are taught to look out for signs of lying, under or over embelishment of story, nervousness, sweating, but no one can tell absolutely, especially if a person is a pathological liar, he may well then believe everything he says to be true and so there would be no tell tale signs, even a lie detector isn't 100% accurate. Everyone has some degree of talent in this area, I don't think it's paranormal though, just human.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2006
  12. Aug 4, 2006 #11
    Some ppl have high emotional intelligence. They can indeed "sense" how ppl feel emotionally plus they have enhanced "intuition" if a person is speaking truth or not. Those are facts connected to ourTEMPERAMENT. (http://www.keirsey.com/)

    From another perspective, pheromones each one of us gives off freely communitace our basic "animalistic" state. Anger/fear/etc , its very plausible that certain ppl learned (through polaniy's tacit knowledge) to read this signals better than others.

    i dont see nothing supernatural in this.....
  13. Nov 25, 2008 #12
    I think I have the same kind of sense sometimes.. I would love to understand it better.. Backstory on why : I am not sure if its me being insacure or am I really senseing the truth.. I have been validated recently.. I was withthis girl for over a year and felt like she loved me and became comfortable enough to allow myself to fall head over heels in love with her.. Was considering asking her to marry me at one point.. Then it all changed... I felt like she loved her Ex still even though she talked **** about him everyday and always got pissed off when I said anything about it.. I kept telling myself it was my owm insacurities that was makeing me think that way.. So I kept giving myself futher and further. This girl cheated on me once before swears she didnt of course) and does things I disagree with and has a million tons of drama but I still want to love her for some reason.. I have never felt like that before.. SO I figured it was meant to be so I cant leave her and her kids.. about a month ago she left me on a sunday and moved her ex in the tuesday.. I was crushed.. after a couple of days I was at peace without the drama and extra stress but I stil missed her and her kids and still loved her even after all that ********.. Her ex only stayed a few days and left her and her kids again and now I am back in the picture.. I dont think it is the right thing for me but I cant get over the feeling that I am suppose to be with her.. but at the same time I feel like she only has me here cause he doesnt want to be here.. I think she takes me for granted.. She made me feel like she really regretted doing that to me and relized how good she had before and how much she loved me.. It onlt lasted a few days.. She isnt rude or mean to me now but I cant figure out if she really is actracted to me and really wants me to be her Man.. Like proud to be with me kinda.. It is a extremly hard thing to talk about and to figure out.. Are my instincs right and I jsut dont want them to be or is my judgment of my instincts clouded becasue of the things she has done in the past.. I am at a point where I need to follow a path one way or the other.. I have a friend who has showed interest in me and she is a great girl.. Funny Beautiful, and very loveing and careing but I havent really done anything about it becaseu my head and my emotions are so screwed up.. If I go with her Iwill be leaveing a women I love to death and if I dont I am in a relationship that doesnt give me what I want.. WOW Sorry I went on so long but I have never actually said this before.. Now I know why my head is so clogged up.. What I meant to ask is How do you know if you are senseing the truth or worrying about what could happen.. IS there a way to make this sense stronger.. I know it comes from me and how I feel about me but any suggestions would great !! Thanks
  14. Nov 25, 2008 #13


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    Yes, I've always thought I was good at reading people (don't know if I really am).

    But there's a catch 22. The better I know somebody, the harder it is to tell because the more complex our relationship is. It's more confusing to figure somebody out that you've known for a while and spent a lot of time with.

    In the street or the office though, where I have shallow relationships with people, they're easier to read (or maybe I just never get a chance to confirm if I'm right, heheh!)

    I wonder if this is because people are more self-conscious around people they're closer to. When people are self-conscious it's hard to read them at all (like an example given in a previous post... if you're being accused of murder you're going to be very self-conscious of your actions even if you're innocent)
  15. Nov 25, 2008 #14
    Tension in postures, breathing patterns, how quickly smiles fade after a laugh, where the eyes wander, fidgeting...

    There are many indicators and many combinations of these indicators that can transmit information.
  16. Nov 26, 2008 #15
    Lie detectors can be easily manipulated. It is pseudo-science.
  17. Nov 26, 2008 #16
    IMO, personality-type probably has something to do with it (i.e. http://www.personalitypage.com/INFJ.html)... Some people are better than others at picking up the details, putting details together to create an order or pattern that makes sense, and making better inferences as a results...
  18. Nov 26, 2008 #17
    I have learned to do what you describe, but I am not a natural, I've had to learn the hard way. I have met a few people in my life and accepted them into my life that I wish I had not. Your lucky.

    The unashamed wickedness of many many people here on earth is fact, and those that I describe often try to appear quite the opposite. These people study psychology and know how to exploit your emotions. They appeal to your kindness by making you feel sorry for them. They bombard you with complements. Then when you let your guard down they bite you like a snake. After you realize their intent, and what kind of evils they are capable of, you just move on and try not to make them angry.

    They will then move on to the next victim, and you can be free.
  19. Nov 26, 2008 #18


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    The polygraph is just one tool for the interrogator; The interrogator themselves are the ultimate lie detector. It's not really that easy to mess with the polygraph without pissing the interrogator off. The common result is that you make the results unreadable, not that you look truthful. This is a red flag to the interrogator.
  20. Nov 26, 2008 #19

  21. Nov 26, 2008 #20


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    Yes, I see your point. I guess I should be clear that I don't think it's a science (yet...)

    It has, however, been shown to work in revealing information. Some interrogators are better than others, and of course some subjects (like a trained spy) are better at deceiving the interogator.

    It's like a super-complicated game of chess; there's no formulated way to guarantee a win, but it doesn't mean that you can't win at all. It also doesn't mean it's completely random and up to chance. Certain players are better at chess and succeed more often.

    It's a feedback system, so every case will be unique and have exception, but there's general rules and codes to follow so that the feedback system works for you. The caveat being that the opponent can use the same rules and codes to the make the feedback system work for him (or her).

    Also, how many women have been able to trick polygraphs, just out of curiousity. I've only heard of men tricking it, and mostly trained people. People that do it from a webpage on the internet often get caught because they make obvious attempt to sabotage and then the evidence is found in their home later after a warrant is made up.

    This is where I would say that science doesn't encompass all reality; Do you use science in your relationships or making music? I don't; I use my gut, and it's worked out fine for me (errors happen... but they happen in science just as frequently).

    Science doesn't work very well with human behavior, but that doesn't mean human behavior is completely unmanageable.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
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