Science Says Resting Bitch Face Is Real


If, like me, you've ever been told to "smile" a countless number of times by complete strangers while you're innocently trying to grocery shop, catch a train (or, alternately, valet your car), work out at the gym, or complete any other innocuous activity, you've probably considered the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you have Resting Bitch Face (RBF).

The term has been thrown around a lot over the past few years, often jokingly, but, in truth, there are a hella lot of people out there whose seemingly neutral faces are perceived as angry, upset or just plain disgusted.

Finally science is catching up with RBF. Last October researchers Abbe Macbeth and Jason Rogers, employees of Noldus Information Technology, a software-developing company that focuses specifically on observational and behavioral research, analyzed the faces of a slew of celebs who boast what one might consider RBF (we're looking at you K-Stew). They ran the mugs of the stars through Noldus' FaceReader software and the results are not only interesting, but a relief for anyone with RBF.

When faces are analyzed, typically the software will read the face as 97 percent neutral with three percent underlying expression (the culprit for showing shade of emotions like sadness or happiness).

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"We see that people who have this RBF expression [have] double the amount of emotionality expressed," Macbeth told CNN. Those afflicted with RBF may show a jump of trace emotions as high as 6 percent and most of the emotion expressed is of contempt: the feeling that something is worthless or deserving scorn."

Armed with these findings, Rogers and Macbeth next want to explore why some people have RBF while others don't, and why people consider the trait to be such a bad thing.

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Personally, I'm looking at it this way—shouldn't we all relax our facial muscles when we're not engaged in any sort of banter? If my "neutral" face happens to settle into what others perceive to be sad or annoyed, so be it. But I'm glad scientific research is interested in backing me up.

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