A Good Poker Face

by Patrick Appel

Can make reading others’ emotions more difficult:

Someone with a poker face will not miss an opponent with a big smile on her face when she look at her cards – participants suppressing their expressions were not significantly worse at correctly stating the expression they saw on the final slide. But when it comes to identifying slight signs of emotion – the hints revealed by a careful player – someone trying to hold a poker face is more likely to miss them.

Poker players cloaking their emotions is probably still wise. But other stone-faced professionals should take note:

As the authors point out, these findings may be most important for professions like law enforcement or medicine. Police officers interviewing a victim try to maintain a professional demeanor, devoid of expression, while seeking out information about others’ emotions. Yet this research shows the inherent difficulty of doing so. This is particularly true of a therapist’s work.