Facial expressions reflect emotional states

Since that time, the universality of the six basic emotions [3] i. While emotions themselves are universal phenomena, they are always influenced by culture. How emotions are experienced, expressed, perceived, and regulated varies as a function of culturally normative behavior by the surrounding society. Therefore, it can be said that culture is a necessary framework for researchers to understand variations in emotions.

Facial expressions reflect emotional states

From joy to longing, from anger to fearfrom sadness to disgust — eyes can become powerful windows to our internal states. We use our eyes to take in the world around us, and to reflect the world within us. To reveal our inner emotional states with our facial expressions and to interpret them accurately is one of the foundations of social interaction.

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The biological significance of the face as an instrument for communication starts in infancy. As early as 9 minutes after birth, infants prefer to look at faces rather than objects, and as young as 12 days old, babies have the ability to imitate facial gestures.

This ability later contributes to the development of cognitive skills such as language and mentalizing i. Not all is straightforward when it comes to reading emotions. Especially when reading emotions across cultures. Despite the universality of basic emotions, as well as the similar facial muscles and neural architecture responsible for emotional expression, people are usually more accurate when judging facial expressions from their own culture than those from others.

This can be explained by the existence of idiosyncratic and culture-specific signatures of nonverbal communication.

Facial expressions reflect emotional states

So, how does culture influence emotion perception? One way is in the perception of the intensity of emotions.

Function of the amygdala

For example, Americans have been shown to rate the same expressions of happinesssadness and surprise more intensely compared to the Japanese. Furthermore, differences have been found in the way we infer internal experiences from external displays of emotion.

When asked to rate faces on how intensely they were portraying certain emotions and how intensely the posers were actually feeling these emotions, American participants, for instance, gave higher ratings to the external appearance of emotions. The Japanese participants, on the other hand, assigned higher ratings to internal experiences of emotions.

Therefore, depending on cultural contexts, internal turmoil might not necessarily be legible on the face, while an overly excited smile might be masquerading only lukewarm enthusiasm.

This cross-cultural discrepancy in interpreting emotion intensity has been attributed to display rules. Culture-specific display rules are learned during childhood. A classical study from the s that demonstrates cross-cultural differences in display rules involved American and Japanese participants watching stressful films under two conditions — once alone, and once with an experimenter in the room Ekman, Participants from both cultures produced similar facial expression when watching the films alone.

However, with the presence of the experimenter, the Japanese masked their negative emotions through smiles. The Americans, on the other hand, continued to display their negative emotions in front of the experimenter.

These differences were explained by differences in display rules in Japan and in the US: Cross-cultural variations have also been found in the cues we look for when interpreting emotions. Research tracking eye movements to assess where people direct their attention during face perception has shown that across cultures, people may be sampling information differently from faces.

For instance, when identifying faces, East Asian participants focused on the central region of the face around the nosegiving more importance to the eyes and gaze direction.Significance. Emotions coordinate our behavior and physiological states during survival-salient events and pleasurable interactions.

Even though we are often consciously aware of our current emotional state, such as anger or happiness, the mechanisms giving rise to these subjective sensations have remained unresolved.

A smile begins in our sensory corridors. The earcollects a whispered word. The eyes spot an old friend on the station platform.

The hand feels the pressure of another hand. This emotional data funnels to . For centuries, we’ve believed that facial expressions mirror our innermost emotions.

But recent research has found that may be far from the truth. The test subjects then had to define the emotional states they saw in each photo, based on a predetermined list of possible emotions they had seen prior. Through these studies, Ekman found a high agreement across members of Western and Eastern cultures when it came to selecting emotional labels that corresponded with facial expressions.

Amygdala: Amygdala, region of the brain primarily associated with emotional processes. The name amygdala is derived from the Greek word amygdale, meaning “almond,” owing to the structure’s almondlike shape. The amygdala is located in the medial temporal lobe, just anterior to .

Reading facial expressions of emotion, and especially microexpressions, can aid the development of rapport, trust, and collegiality; they can be useful in making credibility assessments, evaluating truthfulness and detecting deception; and better information about emotional states provides the basis for better cooperation, negotiation, or sales.

Emotion, Theories of | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy