• Welcome to Autism Forums, a friendly forum to discuss Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, High Functioning Autism and related conditions.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Private Member only forums for more serious discussions that you may wish to not have guests or search engines access to.
    • Your very own blog. Write about anything you like on your own individual blog.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon! Please also check us out @ https://www.twitter.com/aspiescentral

Does anyone find they read facial expressions in TV/ shows documentaries/movies better than in real life?

meow123

Member
I've noticed that I have trouble focusing on/listening to what people are saying if I observe their facial expressions/body language at the same time. But for whatever reason, I'm much better at reading people's expressions in documentaries, TV shows and movies while simultaneously listening to what they say. Is there any explanation for this? Is anyone else here the same?
 

Magna

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I don't know if I experience the exact same thing but something similar in that one reason I've always liked the show Seinfeld is that the character's expressions and often overly-animated antics and gestures were both helpful and entertaining. I didn't have to try to guess or try to "read" subtle non-verbal communication between the characters because in that show there was no subtle communication.
 
Last edited:

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Interesting observation. I think you are correct, as @Magna pointed out, either you have the situation where the actors are "overly-animated", or two, you have these camera cuts that zoom in on the facial expressions at timely moments, as if to say, "look at how this person reacted". What I suspect is happening is that the directors and editors are dictating the precise moments in which we, the viewer, are supposed to notice facial expressions, body language, etc. Whereas in real life, as autistics, we are doing these things, or not, on our own.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
Post number two and number three make a lot of sense to me. Also, I have quite a bit of control over environmental sensory stimuli when I am watching something on a screen. Real life conversations typically take place in a setting where there is a whole range of sensory input to filter out in order to focus on the person in front of me.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
There's another factor that's "hidden in plain sight": watching a screen, you're rarely required to focus on more than one thing at a time.

Writers simplify, actors exaggerate, cinematographers frame and focus.
Watch a scene twice: once with sound (for context) and once without (so you have spare bandwidth) and the techniques are easier to see.
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I've noticed that I have trouble focusing on/listening to what people are saying if I observe their facial expressions/body language at the same time. But for whatever reason, I'm much better at reading people's expressions in documentaries, TV shows and movies while simultaneously listening to what they say. Is there any explanation for this? Is anyone else here the same?
Not really surprising. In real life, your vision is focused on a space greater than camera controlled closeups on a 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio found on television or film screens.

In other words the amount of extraneous visual data you are faced with in a real life conversation can be far more confusing compared to a broadcast or film presentation. Not to mention equally controlled audio that is designed to enhance the sound of whatever is being said while limiting extraneous sounds beyond the scope of a person talking.

And if you want to really hone your own sense of focus over any kind of presentation, imagine it in black and white as opposed to color. When your visual sense of recollection is likely enhanced given inherent distractions of vibrant colors.

In other words, reality has far greater audio and visual distractions compared to the world of film and television.
 

chincey_james

Well-Known Member
In movies, TV, and documentaries, there is usually a through line narrative that helps to give context to the emotions characters are expressing. We don't get that in real life. Real life is more ambigious.

I feel like I am fairly strong at determining how people are feeling based on their expressions, but my problem arises in sometimes being mistaken in my assumption and not even realizing it.

My partner tells me that I ask him "How are you?" or "How are you feeling?" too often. Maybe I adopted this habit because I want to confirm that my assumptions about his emotional state are accurate. I will admit that I sometimes mistake him being tired for being annoyed at me.
 

Progster

Grown sideways to the sun
V.I.P Member
On TV it's controlled and predictable. In real life, it rarely is.
In real life, there's a lot more going on, and it's 360 degrees around you. And it's interactive, often requiring input or a response from you. TV isn't interactive, less to have to deal with.
 

Tom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Well, some actors.

kristen.gif


;)
 

AngelaS267

Well-Known Member
I feel that I'm able to in real life cause my ability to keep up in social situations is heavily dependant on my ability to be hyper aware of peoples body language and not just their words. My issue usually comes in when I have to respond appropriately. You can get the gist of how neurotypical people communicate and mimic it but I don't know how to respond to all of it well. And If I get burnt out I don't even try but I'm always aware of body language. I think with TV, It's also easy for me to read, but theirs the added benefit of being able to respond to the situations on TV authentically and comfortably.
 

GrownupGirl

Tempermental Artist
When I was a kid I once thought people in real life didn't have expressions, only cartoon characters did. That's because in animation everything is exaggerated for effect. Sometimes in well-made animation I don't even need to see the character's face to know what they're feeling because their body language is so expressive or exaggerated. Bugs Bunny's ears are all limp, that means he's sad or frightened, lol.
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
I like to watch with the sound turned off, to see if l can determine the emotion. However if there is too much botox, l can't really make out expressions.
 

Slime_Punk

 Please erase
V.I.P Member
You know what's so tough about IRL interactions VS movies and TV (IMO)? Not only is the latter more exaggerated for dramatic effect and the former more subtle, but real-life interactions usually require the correct amount of attention and eye-contact to even perceive. If you miss that expression, it's almost like it never happened.

I think there's a wide range of reasons as to why this is true for a lot of us. Missing subtle cues is easier than NTs might otherwise imagine, and to them it can seem as if we just don't care about how they feel.
 

Suzanne

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Yes and since you raised this question, the answer that I come to, is that we are in a relaxed atmosphere when watching something and thus, it is easier to read facial expressions.
 

Misty Avich

I prefer not to be referred to as autistic
V.I.P Member
By being able to read facial expressions on TV, proves that autistics aren't exactly oblivious or clueless to these things.
 

Neri

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I find the sound track in movies cues you in to how you are supposed to feel and it helps with learning what different facial expressions mean.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
Staff member
V.I.P Member
By being able to read facial expressions on TV, proves that autistics aren't exactly oblivious or clueless to these things.
I don't think it was ever a matter of obliviousness or cluelessness to these things. It's a matter of being able to focus and filter extraneous sensory and social stimuli. As with most things related to the differences in autistic brains, it is a processing issue.
 

Misty Avich

I prefer not to be referred to as autistic
V.I.P Member
I don't think it was ever a matter of obliviousness or cluelessness to these things. It's a matter of being able to focus and filter extraneous sensory and social stimuli. As with most things related to the differences in autistic brains, it is a processing issue.
Everywhere I read about autism it says they don't understand non-verbal cues or are unable to read them, like a social dyslexia sort of thing.
 

New Threads

Top Bottom