Facial Expressions of Emotion

AutorColeman, James C.
PealkiriFacial expressions of emotion / James C. Coleman
IlmunudWashington : American Psychological Association, 1949
ViideColeman, James C. 1949. Facial expressions of emotion. Washington: American Psychological Association.

Considerbale importance has been attached by social psychologists to the study of facial expressions of emotion. Such studies not only contribute to the better understanding of social interaction but they also have many practical implications for art, sculptue, motion pictures, and related fields. Despite the development in recent years of special techniques for the study of facial expressions of emotion there are an impressive number of contradictory findings in contemporary investigations in this area.
Many of these contradictory findings are undoubtedly due to: (a) the highly artificial nature of the sketches, drawings, photographs, and demonstrational models which have been used as the basic material for a majority of experiments, (b) the generally vague meaning and use of emotional concepts and terms, and (c) the failure of many investigators to realize the abstract and artificial nature of attempting to judge the emotional feelings which another person is undergoing from facial expressions alone. (Coleman 1949: 1)
Study of facial expressions is important for the arts. Three common causes of problems for the study of facial expressions of emotion.
There is considerable cultural variation with respect to the time, place, and way in which certain emotions are expressed. In addition the type of situation which elicits a given emotional expression may vary greatly from one society to another. (c) As a result of cultural patterning, facial expressions of emotion may be considered to a large extent as supplementary language mechanisms. There are wide individual differences within a given society in facial expressions of emotion both with respect to the degree and nature of the expression. (Coleman 1949: 1)
Facial expressions of emotion are culturally relative, according to this author, and function as supplementary language mechanisms.
...subject was blindfolded momentarily, and when the blindfold was removed he was confronted with a snake on a stand immediately in front of him; the inclined plane of the stand caused the snake to coil with its head protruding in the direction of a subject and a to slip gradually into the subject's lap... (Coleman 1949: 2)
One of those extreme forms of psychological experiments. The result was not a facial expression of emotion but a continual gaze to the snake, watching it intently. A point in case: experimenters wanted expression but received purposeful/instrumental action.
...the matter of expression stereotypes. Despite the greater facilities apparently offered in the mouth muscles, certain feeling states may be conventionally conveyed by the eye muscle. For example, the acted expressions of both subjects I and II in Situation 7 (snake) were far more easily recognized from the eye region than from the mouth region. The tendency of both subjects in the acted series, but not in the natural series, to stare rather fixedly at the snake tends to support this supposition. This brings to mind Landis' contention that the posed expressions which have often been used in previous experiments are not true portraits of facial expression during emotion but rather socialized and to a large extent conventionalized responses used as supplementary language mechanisms. The third complicating factor is that of individual differences in the facial expressions of emotion. For example, certain individuals may show a preference in the use of eye or mouth muscles for emotional expression. (Coleman 1949: 24)
Here the author is too involved with comparing the upper and lower half of the face to notice the difference between functional and expressive behaviour. The conventionalization of facial expressions is a good topic to discuss, though. Birdwhistell should be revisited on this note.


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