You wouldn’t think that someone posing for a mugshot is feeling particularly happy in that moment.
Scared, for sure.
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Yet an examination of 30,000 mugshots from across the country reveals that happiness is by far the most common emotion — demonstrated by a smiling face — felt by detainees.
North Carolina suspects appeared the happiest of all, followed by smiley-face suspects in Nevada, Indiana, Maine and New York.
The “most joyful jailbirds” are those arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, followed by cruelty to animals, child sexual abuse, vandalism and resisting arrest.
Feel free to scratch your head now.
The study conducted for L.A.-based criminal defense attorneys Aizman Law Firm used Microsoft Cognitive Services, a tool that can detect emotions, to examine the photos.
“Let’s be honest: Police suspects fascinate many people,” the firm wrote of its study.
“Why do they do what they do? How did they get to the point where they’re sitting handcuffed in the back of a police car? Who are they, really? And what goes on inside their heads?
“It’s that last question — what goes on inside the minds of those arrested? — that inspired us to do a little research.”
Contempt and anger each showed up in 7 percent of the photos examined. But nearly 60 percent of detainees in the mugshots appeared to be happy.
Speaking of happy, remember this guy in Texas who accused jailhouse personnel of choking him because he wouldn’t stop smiling for his mugshot?
And, remember this guy’s grinning pose?
“The results were wide-ranging. Sadness, contempt, disgust, anger, fear, and surprise all showed up,” the report said. “However, the most common emotion by far — with 59 percent of mugshots showing it to some degree — was one you might not expect: happiness.
“It turns out many American arrestees are happy campers, at least while they’re in front of the camera.”
The next most common emotion was sadness, at 21 percent.
The saddest mugshots came from West Virginia, Montana, Idaho, Utah and Oregon. They were most often arrested for cruelty to animals, driving under the influence, and hurling obscenities.
Speaking of sad, remember this guy?
Maryland mugshot subjects were the angriest in the country, followed by California, Nevada, Missouri and Oregon.
“While 59 percent of the suspected offenders were happy as clams (at least at the moment they got their photos taken), another 7 percent were enraged by their fate,” the study said.
“We can’t say whether it was anger at getting caught, anger at themselves, or a more general anger at their lot in life, but we can tell you it’s a common emotion among those recently arrested. This is particularly the case in Maryland and for those arrested for unlawful transactions with a minor, gang offenses, or trespassing.”
The most contemptuous faces appeared in mugshots from New Jersey, followed by Idaho, Oregon and Missouri.
“The alleged culprits most likely to jut out their chins in contempt are those arrested for gang activity, witness tampering, and child sexual assault,” the study said.
Then there was this New Jersey arrested last summer for allegedly drinking in a parking lot and refusing to comply with police.
Subjects in Hawaii ranked highest for fear and surprise. (Surprise! You’ve been arrested in paradise!)
“Not every suspected lawbreaker expects or accepts his or her fate. Five percent of the photos we researched showed utter surprise,” the survey said.
“The states where arrestees were most likely to showcase this emotion? Hawaii, North Carolina, and Nevada. And those most likely to look stunned? Alleged kidnappers, those arrested for sexual assault, and trespassers.”
And California criminals had the most disgusted faces.