The combination of new insights into non-verbal communication with a broad scientific base and our own scientific research

Innovative and practical tools based on new scientific research

Non-verbal communication is a broad term. It includes elements such as posture, movement, facial expression, speech pace, breathing, intonation and eye contact. The combination of these elements is what mainly determines the message that is communicated to the receiver. To even more than 90% in some situations. It therefore pays off to be able to read those non-verbal messages.

Unconscious and reliable information

There are some elements of non-verbal communication that people are (partly) aware of. For example, you can be aware of your posture (sitting, standing, leaning back, arms on the table, etc.) and whether you are looking at the other person or not. But when the interactive situation becomes more exciting or intense, it is much harder to do so.

However, scientific research shows that the many, fast and subtle micro-movements of the face are virtually 100% unconscious. Unconscious also means they cannot be influenced, which is what makes these micro-movements so interesting: they are a reliable source of information.

Scientific research by INSA and predicting behavior

From 2011 to 2016, INSA in cooperation with the University of Amsterdam has conducted a first explorative research on the meaning of repetitive facial micro-movements (excluding facial expressions that only occur once). At this moment INSA and the University of Amsterdam are conducting a more specific follow-up study, on the relationship between repetitive micromovements and negotiation styles. Publication in an international scientific journal will take place in 2018.

INSA’s scientific research is innovative and unique up to this very day. Over the last 60 years, the international scientific research on facial micro-movements almost exclusively concerned the question as to which facial expressions do or don’t show the (felt) emotions of the person. INSA has been the first to research facial micro-movements from a completely different perspective, and has also succeeded in showing a new dimension in this field.

The research conducted by INSA proves that each individual has a characteristic and constantly repeating repertoire of micro-movements, irrespective of the situation. We call this the Personal Non-verbal Repertoire (PNR). INSA has been the first to scientifically demonstrate this phenomenon. The research shows that the PNR also sheds light on personality traits.


Recent neuro scientific insights point to a relationship between facial micro-movements and (partly unconscious) automatic behavior of an individual. This automatic or reflex behavior is characterized by the Fight-Flight-Freeze System (FFFS).

The amygdala in the brain is important for our reflex behavior, in prompting FFFS related reactions. This is where “learning experiences” related to risks and tension are stored; these learning experiences determine to a large extent how we perceive risk or tension. Most probably, a large part of it is already genetically determined. It is also the amygdala which plays an important role in controlling the facial muscles. How we have learned to perceive and experience tension largely determines our repertoire of (FFFS related) reactions, including to the slight tension that is present in every human interaction.

This repertoire of Fight-Flight-Freeze related reactions is visible in the human face. The findings of the research by INSA points in the same direction.

Research and development: permanent attention

At INSA, we constantly conduct research on the relation between Personal Non-verbal Repertoire and behavioral strategies. We constantly conduct video analyses and test our findings in real-world interactive situations. Our research, together with our clients’ needs, functions as the basis for developing our products and services. This is how we turn an interesting concept into something that also has practical value.