Culture and Emotional Expression & The Effects of Facial Expression

Culture and Emotional Expression
Facial expressions
"For news of the heart, ask the face"-Guinean proverb

Although people of differing cultures and differing races speak different languages, our faces speak the same language. In the picture above, which face expresses: disgust, anger, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise?

The answers from left to right and from top to bottom: anger, fear, disgust, surprise, happiness and sadness.

A smile is a smile in all cultures around the world. The previous six facial expressions and the process of matching them to their distinct emotions are a psychological experiment done by Paul Ekman (HE IS IN THE VIDEO POSTED BELOW!), Wallace Friesen, and Carroll Izard. This experiment shows photographs of different facial expressions to people in different parts of the world and asks them to guess the emotions portrayed.

Charles Darwin speculated that in prehistoric times facial expressions were a form of communication. Emotional expressions enhance our survival: widening eyes enable us to take in more information and wrinkling our nose close from foul odors.

Although cultures share universal language for basic emotions, they differ in how much emotion they express. For instance, Japanese people who watch a film of someone's hand being cut off will most likely hide their emotions in the presence of others. According to the study, Asians rarely display negative/ self aggrandizing emotions that would disrupt others.

*the image above is from an online article (here)

Read this article from TOPNEWS! It is about Japanese and American's differences in interpreting facial expressions!

Looking at Facial Expression in "EVOLUTIONARY" psychology! Read this short article on experiment that has NEVER done before! It is from PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of United States of America)- online at (here)

Ever wonder if the face expressions and words of your friends are from their heart!? Learn how to detect LIES from (here)!
There are much cooler psych stuff in there so check it out! (ex. optical illusions, signs of flirt!, body languages, brainteasers and brain games, improving your memory and brain, insomnia (sleep) and much more!)


Effects of Facial Expression
Expressions amplify and regulate emotions. Darwin's hypothesis suggests that people faking a grin or a scowl can feel the difference in emotion. Author of The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Darwin suggested that "the free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it..." For example, in a psychological experiment, students induced to smile felt happier, while others felt angry after being induced to make a frowning gesture. This reflects the "smile therapy" difference.

The effect of emotional expressions and postures triggering a feeling leads to the question of whether or not imitations of others' expressions can help empathize with their feelings. This idea proved to be true when in an experiment; an observer was able to identify with the feeling of the person receiving electrical shock. With each apparent shock on the test subject, the observer perspired more and had a faster heart rate than the other observers. This ultimately led to the conclusion that acting as another acts helps us feel what another feels.

Read this article about the debate whether if facial expressions reflect inner feelings or are simply influential social tools!

Also, read this article about how facial expression show language barriers. How do cultures shape our understanding of facial expression?

Need some more review? Play some jeopardy!!

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