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Eyebrow body language

 

Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Eyebrow body language

Lowered | Raised | Middle-raised | Middle-lowered | Middle-together | Up and downSee also

 

Eyebrows can send body language. Being near the eyes, which are the major senders of signals, they are highly visible communicators, although the limited control of muscles around them can limit what they say.

Lowered

Lowering the eyebrows conceals the eyes to a certain degree. Particularly with a lowered head, this can thus indicate deception or a desire that eye signals are harder to see.

Lowered eyebrows may also indicate annoyance, perhaps effectively saying 'I am so displeased, I do not want to look at you.' Related to this, lowered eyebrows are a sign of a dominant person.

Raised

When a person is surprised, their eyebrows are often raised. This typically happens as a part of opening the eyes wider, perhaps to see more clearly what is going on. The more the surprise. the higher the eyebrows are raised.

Raising the eyebrows asks for attention from others and can signal general emphasis. When as question is asked and the eyebrows are raised afterwards, this is a clear invitation to answer the question.

Opposite to the dominant lowering of eyebrows, raising eyebrows is may be a submissive move or indicate openness, as it lets the other person see your eyes ('I am not looking where I should not!'). Dominance and attractive signals can often be similar and raising eyebrows to expose eyes can also be a signal of attraction ('I'm looking at you, gorgeous. Can you see?').

Raising a single eyebrow is something that only some people can do and can be a bit more wry in its meaning, for example showing cynicism and asking 'Are you sure?' when the other person appears to be talking with limited accuracy.

Middle-raised

By pushing together the eyebrows and pulling up the forehead, the eyebrows can be made to slope outwards. This can indicate relief ('Whew!'). It can also indicate anxiety ('Oh no!').

Middle-lowered

When the middle of the eyebrows are pulled down so they slope inwards, this often shows that the person is angry or frustrated. It can also indicate intense concentration.

Middle together

When the eyebrows are pulled together, it can indicate confusion or an attempt to perceive better ('What's that?').

An inverted horseshoe-shaped fold between the brow is known as 'Darwin's grief muscle' and often indicates sadness.

Up and down

When we see people we know, we often give a quick single up-down 'eyebrow flash' in recognition and greeting. This is a common signal across all primates, including monkeys and gorillas.

Rapid and repeated up and down movement may be an exaggerated signal, meaning 'Well how about that then!', in the way that Groucho Marx used it.

See also

Eyes body language, Forehead body language

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