Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Facial Expressions Of Emotion Are Innate, Not Learned

Date:
December 30, 2008
Source:
San Francisco State University
Summary:
Facial expressions of emotion are hardwired into our genes, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The research suggests that facial expressions of emotion are innate rather than a product of cultural learning.

Photos show comparison of facial expressions by blind and sighted athletes who just lost a match for a medal.
Credit: Bob Willingham

Facial expressions of emotion are hardwired into our genes, according to a new study. The research suggests that facial expressions of emotion are innate rather than a product of cultural learning. The study is the first of its kind to demonstrate that sighted and blind individuals use the same facial expressions, producing the same facial muscle movements in response to specific emotional stimuli.

The study also provides new insight into how humans manage emotional displays according to social context, suggesting that the ability to regulate emotional expressions is not learned through observation.

San Francisco State University Psychology Professor David Matsumoto compared the facial expressions of sighted and blind judo athletes at the 2004 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games. More than 4,800 photographs were captured and analyzed, including images of athletes from 23 countries.

"The statistical correlation between the facial expressions of sighted and blind individuals was almost perfect," Matsumoto said. "This suggests something genetically resident within us is the source of facial expressions of emotion."

Matsumoto found that sighted and blind individuals manage their expressions of emotion in the same way according to social context. For example, because of the social nature of the Olympic medal ceremonies, 85 percent of silver medalists who lost their medal matches produced "social smiles" during the ceremony. Social smiles use only the mouth muscles whereas true smiles, known as Duchenne smiles, cause the eyes to twinkle and narrow and the cheeks to rise.

"Losers pushed their lower lip up as if to control the emotion on their face and many produced social smiles," Matsumoto said. "Individuals blind from birth could not have learned to control their emotions in this way through visual learning so there must be another mechanism. It could be that our emotions, and the systems to regulate them, are vestiges of our evolutionary ancestry. It's possible that in response to negative emotions, humans have developed a system that closes the mouth so that they are prevented from yelling, biting or throwing insults."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by San Francisco State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Spontaneous Facial Expressions of Emotion in Congenitally and Non-Congenitally Blind Individuals. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 96, No.1; January, 2009

Cite This Page:

San Francisco State University. "Facial Expressions Of Emotion Are Innate, Not Learned." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081229080859.htm>.
San Francisco State University. (2008, December 30). Facial Expressions Of Emotion Are Innate, Not Learned. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081229080859.htm
San Francisco State University. "Facial Expressions Of Emotion Are Innate, Not Learned." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081229080859.htm (accessed August 19, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New numbers show a decade's worth of changes in the number of kids with disabilities. They suggest mental disabilities are up; physical ones are down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Newsy (Aug. 17, 2014) New Hampshire's governor declared a state of emergency after more than 40 overdoses of synthetic marijuana in one week throughout the state. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins