On May 3, I posted this photo and asked people what they saw when they looked at this expression. I also asked, “If a person did this after you asked them a question, would you think they are lying because they are covering their mouth?”
This is not a universal expression of emotion. It’s just one of many, many facial expressions we make as humans, and while it shows a negative response–that’s about all we can say. There is not enough information to determine anything else.
Some of the potentials one could simply speculate at without forming an opinion would be:
–Thought of something startling, uncomfortable, displeasing
–Tasted something displeasing or possibly burped up something unpleasant
–Saw someone do something unpleasant
–Has a feeling of disbelief over hearing some news, conversation–or seeing a behavior (theft?)
The list could on with other examples, too.
We can’t determine much from this picture other than she felt something negative until we got more information. If I saw a person reacting like this, I would simply say, “Are you okay?” and let the person provide more information.
Now, if you ask someone a question and they give you this response, I do not believe covering the hand over one’s mouth signifies lying. We cover our mouths for many reasons from shock to disbelief to surprise.
A reaction like this could also be as simple as this woman remembering she was supposed to be somewhere, and forgot–totally unrelated to anything anyone said!
While we can see an emotion or expression displayed on someone’s face, we can never be sure of why until we dig deeper.