Is the key to success the ability to fake sincerity ?

“Sincerity is the key to success. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.” These are the famous words of Julius Henry Marx, known professionally as Groucho Marx, who was an American comedian and film/television star.

But how do people gauge sincerity ? This is mostly achieved by facial Expressions: What can you learn about a person by just looking at their face? And also the things they say. Let us talk a little more about the psychology of facial expressions.


The eyes can reveal motives, intelligence, trustworthiness and so much more. Faces can reveal character and the depth of a person’s ethics (how they will treat you, how they will treat others). Faces can tell you if a person is arrogant, selfish, kind, compassionate, humorous, mean-spirited, cruel and many others. You can learn to read faces and even become proficient at it while looking at photos of people.

Now unless that person is a top actor or a top poker player, or a top politician, reading facial expressions might be helpful. All of us make inadvertent micro expressions, that other people read. Some people are extremely good at it. You have “interrogators” who is invariably someone who could tell when a person was telling the truth or not. Such people really do exist. But even they struggle with some of the top poker players. The very best not only hid their own, but gave false signals to others to mislead them. Their “tells” were extremely subtle, since they were competing with other experts at reading micro expressions.

A really good movie actor takes advantage of these micro expressions to convey to an audience innermost (but in this case false) feelings. The audience doesn’t even know why the actor is so compelling, because we are not trained to pick up these expressions consciously. This is why there has always been advice (especially to young women) to avoid dating actors. They can too readily mislead you about their feelings.

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The movie Birdman in which actors are playing actors amazingly portray an actor acting, to make you realize that they are just acting, but when they are not acting as if they are acting, they use their full skills to make you forget they are acting.

It is fare to conclude that sincerity holds up well as exemplified in the pop culture of the 50s and beyond. What was Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” (1954) if not sincere, mumbling his way through biker angst while his gang tore up a small town. The early Elvis, the fan’s favorite, was a sincere young Hillbilly from Tupelo, but the later Elvis was just an overindulgent Las Vegas lounge act, who had been stripped of his sincerity by Hollywood.

Sincerity isn’t always pretty though. But it works. So sincerely or fake, getting good at it looks like the general idea of success; business or fame. So would learning some acting help ?

Sources: quora.com | wikipedia.org


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