Dissertation: Facial Expression &amp Emotion Psychology

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[. . .] In any case, the situation is not ideal for good health -- psychologically, physically, or otherwise. People can express emotions with their voices, with their bodies, with their faces, with the use of space, with words, etc. Arguably, humans have a great many means of emotional expression in the world today. Not everyone is aware of them, uses them, or uses them effectively; nonetheless they exist and people have access to them. They must be taught.

While the paper focuses upon facial expressions and emotions, the paper is additionally concerned with emotional intelligence generally. Technology and changes in perceptions or cultures are prominent aspects of the 21st century world. With the proliferation of information technology, media technology, and social media, there is a distinct decrease in general emotional intelligence. We have more ways of communicating with each other, but the general intelligence level of heavily mediated cultures is going down. There are more known cases of social anxieties, social disorders, and other disorders, such as autism, where difficulty recognizing, creating, and interpreting emotions, including facial expressions are becoming more commonly known issues. Therefore, researching into the connections between facial expressions and emotions has a contribution with respect to research and with respect to lived experienced and issues of the real world. The paper works in service to sharpen and increase emotional intelligence. The paper also seeks increased attention to and value put upon emotional intelligence. Gardner[footnoteRef:5] was one of the first to theorize and advocate for the theory of multiple intelligences, one of which is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a component to success professionally, personally, and otherwise. Within these greater societal contexts, the paper operates while maintaining a distinct focus of a narrower topic. [5: Gardner, H. (1989/2009). The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Available from: http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm. ]

Facial expressions on a very basic level are the movements and contortions of the facial muscles. Facial expressions usually have an intention and an antecedent. The greatest meaning of facial expressions can come with consideration of these factors and other key ones such as context. Facial expressions, as the paper will discuss, serve more than one function -- they do more than just provide insight into the emotional state of the individual making the expression. Facial expressions are an example of nonverbal communication. The face is a tool that is quite diverse and specific with respect to communication, expression, and emotion. People often speak of knowing exactly what is on the mind of another person (usually close to them in some respect) by correctly identifying the facial expression of another person. People and animals communicate a lot through the specific conscious and unconscious manipulations of their faces. Thus, some facial expressions are voluntary and some are involuntary.[footnoteRef:6] The face is capable of a proliferation of emotions and yet there are only so many faces and expressions a person can make. Making facial expressions and understanding the various contexts within which they are appropriate are not are learned. For example, smiling is a skill that most infants learn from presumably the loving family members that surround the infant in its early days of life. [6: Dimberg, U., Thuberg, M., Elmehed, K. (2000). Unconscious Facial Reactions to Emotional Facial Expressions. ]

Facial expressions refer to movements of the mimetic musculature of the face. The vast majority of these muscles are innervated by the VIIth cranial nerve, emanating from the brainstem between the pons and medulla…The nerve includes a motor root that supplies somatic muscle fibers to the muscles of the face, scalp, and outer ear, enabling the muscle movements that comprise facial expressions. The sensory part of the nerve enables and augments some aspects of taste and sound…The facial nerve receives impulses from multiple brain areas. Lower face muscles are represented more fully in the motor cortex than the upper face, allowing for more voluntary and learned control of the lower face; this provides the fine controls of that facial region required for speech articulation. (Matsumoto & Ekman, nd, 1)

Every part of the face has a range of movements when making a facial expression. There are muscles in the forehead, cheeks, and chin, for example. There are muscles that control the eyebrows, around the eye sockets, including underneath the eyes. There can be movement within the eyes such as blood flood to the vessels in and around the eyes, pupil dilation even the rate of blinking can be a part of the facial expression as well as the direction of the eyes or the quality of eye contact. There are plenty of expressive muscles in around the mouth -- even a flaring of the nostrils contributes to the overall facial expression. When people shift from facial expression to another, that can be a form of expression as well. The relativity of the expressions in a series is a form of communication and emotional expression. Lack of facial expression is also a form of facial expression. Sometimes anger, fear, sarcasm and other emotions are expressed with a neutral face or lack of expression. What the facial expression means is heavily predicated on the antecedent of the expression and the context. The face is a unique and necessary palette from which we draw to express with specificity, precision, and in ways that only the face can produce.

Once innervated, the face is intricate and differentiated, making it one of the most complex signal systems available to humans. It includes over 40 structurally and independently of each other. The facial musculature is fairly unique. They include the only somatic muscles in the body attached on one side to bone and the other to skin; thus facial movements are specialized for expression. The face is also one of the few places in the body where some muscles are not attached to any bone at all (e.g., orbicularis oculi, the muscle surrounding the eyes; orbicularis oris, the muscle in the lips). (Matsumoto & Ekman, nd, 1 -- 2)

The reproduction of facial expressions is learned. The restriction and placement of facial expressions are also learned. Different cultures teach different facial expressions in different ways. These differences contribute to why there are so few universal emotions. The limitations and interpretations of facial expressions across cultures are called display rules.

Human social life requires expression regulation, because the non-regulated, unadulterated expression of emotion would lead to social chaos (Matsumoto, Yoo, Nakagawa et al., in press); that is, humans cannot just act automatically on their impulses whenever strong emotions are aroused if they are to live harmoniously with others. Fortunately, humans differ greatly from other animals in that they have been endowed with an elaborate set of neuroanatomical structures that allow the alteration of the linkage between the tendency to respond and the actual response (Levenson, 1999). With regard to facial expressions of emotion, these regulatory mechanisms are known as display rules (Ekman & Friesen, 1969). Display rules are learned early in life and dictate the management and modification of facial expressions depending on social circumstances. (Matsumoto & Ekman, nd, 8)

Consider for a moment if every person on Earth expressed their emotions fully and honestly, as they arose in the mind and body. Matsumoto & Ekman state that the world would become chaos, but would it, and if so, how long would it last? The world is already existing within a form of chaos where people cannot read or understand the facial expressions and emotions of others. There is a chaos and an illogic as to why we evolved into societies where the expression of emotion is limited, restricted, and forbidden at times. Psychologically speaking, people who express their emotions, as many of them as possible, in a timely fashion, are really healthy people. We live in a chaotic world where the thought of expressing emotions terrifies people because of the display rules propagated by their culture or society, and it terrifies people because that is a kind of freedom that is not afforded by many people. In essence, most people, over the course of their lives, and perhaps even over the course of their days, must mask, suppress, or otherwise edit their facial expressions to adhere to various sets of display rules with which they encounter. There are times when showing one's true emotions via authentic and directly connected facial expressions may further endanger someone or have an otherwise negative result. We live in a world when showing our true emotions via facial expressions can be at times, quite dangerous. There are a number of occupations that are predicated upon the faking, masking, or otherwise restricted facial expressions and emotional expressions, such as intelligence officers, undercover officers & agents of state and federal agencies. Display rules are an important element when factoring in the context of a facial expression so as to derive the meaning of it.

The meaning of facial expressions come from a context and a code.[footnoteRef:7]… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Facial Expression &amp Emotion Psychology.  (2012, December 7).  Retrieved April 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/facial-expression-emotion-psychology/2619332

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"Facial Expression &amp Emotion Psychology."  Essaytown.com.  December 7, 2012.  Accessed April 21, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/facial-expression-emotion-psychology/2619332.