Ever since Kristen Stewart was thrust into the limelight, she’s been accused of not being the ~*nicest*~ person. And if you’re to believe gossip rags, women like Avril Lavigne, Anna Wintour, and Victoria Beckham are the queens of mean.
Why? Because of one common trait: their grade-A cases of resting bitch face.
Urban Dictionary’s most up-voted definition of “resting bitch face” describes it as “a person, usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless, without meaning to.” Although that definition is extremely gendered, people have accused men like Kanye West of having a perma-case of RBF.
So why do people associate certain faces, usually female, with the resting bitch face phenomenon?
Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth, behavioral researchers with Noldus Information Technology decided to find out once and for all what the deal is with resting bitch face.
Using a program that reads expressions called FaceReader, Rogers and Macbeth found that the program read the neutral faces of people with RBF with twice the contempt of people without the phenomenon.
“FaceReader is not detecting enough contempt to reflect true contempt, because these faces are not actually displaying contempt,” Macbeth told The Washington Post. “It just looks like contempt to the viewer. Thus, it is the perception of that unconscious, subtle contempt expression that defines RBF.”
Contrary to popular belief, Macbeth and Rogers also found that RBF isn’t something that affects more women than men. Since FaceReader isn’t human and therefore is immune to all those biases we hold dear, it found that RBF occurs equally between the sexes.
“RBF isn’t necessarily something that occurs more in women,” Macbeth said. “But we’re more attuned to notice it in women because women have more pressure on them to be happy and smiley and to get along with others.”
Have you been accused of having a case of resting bitch face? Rogers and Macbeth invite you to find out how severe (or how minor) your own case of RBF is. Send your most “neutral” facial expressions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll use FaceReader to tell you if you and ’Ye can bond on your bitchy-but-not-bitchy faces. ??
To read more about Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth’s research, read about it on Noldus.