The face is the natural focal point in our interaction with others and therefore potentially could provides a wealth of nonverbal data about an individuals thoughts and actions.
Facial expressions have through exposure on TV shows like the American show “Lie to me”.
However, we urge caution as, despite what you may hear or read, they are of limited use when attempting to understand the behaviour of an individual .
“Facial expressions of emotion are universal, not learned differently in each culture” Charles Darwin – The expression of emotions in man and animals (1872).
Little has changed since Darwin’s time. there are still many advocates that there are universal facial expressions of emotion and that they are a reliable method of reading the emotional state of an individual.
Paul Ekman is often credited with pioneering modern research into facial expressions and their link to emotion. In the 1960’s he led a team of researchers to interact with a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea where they undertook tests with individuals asked to classify the emotional states of people they saw in photos against a predetermined list of possible emotions.
The results of Ekman’s research proposed that there are 6 primary “universal” expressions of emotion; Happiness, Sadness, Surprise, fear, Anger and Disgust. Later a 7th emotion – contempt was added.
However, it would only be right to point out that there is now much academic research which questions Ekman’s position. The most recent of these can be accessed by clicking here.
How adept are you at identifying Ekmans 7 “universal” facial expressions of emotion. Take the test to see how emotionally aware you are.
You will be prompted to identify 10 emotions through facial expressions – press play, watch the video and then click the emotion seen from the list.
IMPORTANT – Whilst this test will gauge and improve your ability to identify emotion through facial expresions it should not be seen as an alternative to detailed training. If you would like to explore this subject more get in contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org