People experience a multitude of emotions in their everyday life. The mood of people is constantly changing according to the perceived emotions. The purpose of this paper is to discuss why it is important to study nonverbal emotional expressions, identify core emotions and facial expressions connected with them, and describe existing facial management techniques.
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Importance of Nonverbal Emotional Expression
Emotions play a decisive role in everyday communication. It is crucial to study nonverbal emotional expressions to be able to choose the best course of actions in a great multitude of situations. The findings can be used in a variety of fields including medicine, security, business communications, family relations, and advertising.
Seven Emotions and Expressions
Nonverbal expression of emotions is a growing field with nearly 250 scientists studying the correlations between movements of facial muscles and emotions (Ekman 2016). They tend to argue about every aspect of their findings including the number of basic emotions. In their book “Emotion in the human face: Guidelines for research and an integration of findings”, Ekman, Friesen, and Ellsworth (2013) make the minimal list including seven categories of emotion: happiness, surprise, fear, anger, disgust/contempt, and interest.
Nevertheless, many scientists doubt the nature of contempt and interest as individual emotions. According to Ekman (2016), “there was high agreement about five emotions (all of which were described by both Darwin and Wundt): anger (91%), fear (90%), disgust (86%), sadness (80%), and happiness (76%)” (p. 32). Jack, Garrod, and Schyns (2014) limit basic emotion communication to four categories including happy, sad, fear/surprise, and disgust/anger.
Facial Management Techniques
According to Calvo, Gutiérrez-García, Fernández-Martín, and Nummenmaa (2014) “the efficiency of facial emotion recognition is modulated by familiarity of the expressions” (p. 549). People use certain groups of facial muscles to express emotions: eyebrows, lids, nose, lips, and cheeks. For example, when people feel anger, their eyebrows are pulled down, upper and lower lids are pulled up, and lips may be tightened. In disgust, people also pull their eyebrows down, and their upper lip is pulled up, but their lips are loose and their nose is wrinkled (Kamachi et al., 2013).
All people express these seven core emotions with the help of their facial muscles. Nevertheless, the recognitions of emotions is not an easy task for everyone. People are able to hide or imitate emotions to mislead their interlocutors and observers. Ekman, Friesen, and Ellsworth (2013) describe four facial management techniques: intensifying, deintensifying, neutralizing, and masking. For example, when people are sad, but they want to show happiness they mask loose eyelids and raised inner corners of eyebrows with a big smile, raising lip corners and cheeks (Elfenbein, 2013). Neutralizing is good for an employment interview, while intensifying and deintensifying are crucial for working with clients in a shop.
Reading Emotional Expressions
Reading of emotional expressions can benefit people in their relationships with others and prevent dangerous situations. Security should know how to read emotions of people at airports and in shopping malls to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks and robberies. Police detectives can obtain priceless information about victims and suspects analyzing their facial expressions. Businesspeople should understand the emotions of their partners to lead the discussions and advertise their solutions. Husbands and wives can improve their relations paying more attention to the faces of their loved ones.
Not only on the stage but also in a shopping mall, at work, or in a pub one can see clearly happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, anger, contempt or disgust. It is crucial to recognize and study typical facial expressions connected with particular emotions to understand what people feel and define the best strategy to deal with them. Facial management techniques can mislead interlocutors, but reading emotional expressions can help people live more happily together.
Calvo, M. G., Gutiérrez-García, A., Fernández-Martín, A., & Nummenmaa, L. (2014). Recognition of facial expressions of emotion is related to their frequency in everyday life. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 38(4), 549-567.
Ekman, P. (2016). What scientists who study emotion agree about. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(1), 31-34.
Ekman, P., Friesen, W. V., & Ellsworth, P. (2013). Emotion in the human face: Guidelines for research and an integration of findings (2nd ed.). Los Altos, CA: Malor Books.
Elfenbein, H. A. (2013). Nonverbal dialects and accents in facial expressions of emotion. Emotion Review, 5(1), 90-96.
Jack, R. E., Garrod, O. G., & Schyns, P. G. (2014). Dynamic facial expressions of emotion transmit an evolving hierarchy of signals over time. Current Biology, 24(2), 187-192.
Kamachi, M., Bruce, V., Mukaida, S., Gyoba, J., Yoshikawa, S., & Akamatsu, S. (2013). Dynamic properties influence the perception of facial expressions. Perception, 42(11), 1266-1278.