February 3, 2016 3:22 pm
Updated: February 4, 2016 11:26 pm

Here is why you have ‘Resting Bitch Face,’ according to science

WATCH ABOVE: Susan Hay uses facial recognition technology to see if she or Global News Hour anchors Farah Nasser and Alan Carter have "Resting Bitch Face."


They call it “Resting Bitch Face” or RBF – a look often described as a combination of one looking bored, disgusted, stuck-up and generally holier-than-thou. The condition affects everyone from actresses Anna Kendrick and Kristen Stewart, to the author of this article.

But, according to science, I have been misdiagnosed.

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Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth, behavioural researchers with research firm Noldus Information Technology, have developed a computer program designed to identify what RBF actually is and why it strikes a nerve with so many of us.

The software – which can identify specific expressions based on a database of more than 10,000 facial images – uses photos or video clips of test subjects to map 500 points on the human face. The software then analyzes the image and assigns an expression based on eight emotions – happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt, and “neutral.”

READ MORE: Throwing shade – the science of RBF

Researchers asked the software to analyze photos of celebrities known to give off RBF – including Kanye West and The Queen – and all were found to be mostly neutral, but gave off a small reading of contempt.

However, Rogers and Macbeth noted that the software still didn’t detect enough contempt to actually be considered contempt.

“FaceReader is not detecting enough contempt to reflect true contempt, because these faces are not actually displaying contempt. It just looks like contempt to the viewer. Thus, it is the perception of that unconscious, subtle contempt expression that defines RBF,” read the research report.

“Although that face may not be intentional, the viewer’s brain is wired to analyze, and recognize, when a face is displaying even minute traces of contempt.”

So it seems we have been misinterpreting people’s neutral facial expressions as RBF all along.

Eager to clear my name, I sent my photograph to Rogers to have analyzed.

I picked a screenshot from one of my on-air hits that perfectly captured that look people often point out. Some say it looks like a “bitter reporter” meme – I like to think I was just concentrating.


Turns out, I don’t suffer from RBF at all.


“As you can see in the picture… your face is read as purely neutral. Although there are traces of sad, surprised, and contempt, these are very normal. I would not say you were a “bitter reporter meme” in the slightest,” said Rogers in an email.

Another important finding from the report – the software detected RBF in male and female faces equally, which dispels the assumption that RBF affects only women.

If you have been accused of suffering from RBF and want to clear your name, you can submit your photo to researchers to analyze here.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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