Facial Expressions Of Emotion, Are They Innate Or Learned ?
Mimicking other people’s facial expressions is a very intuitive and innate way to be able to empathize, create bonds and communicate with others. In the article “Emotion expression in social interaction ” it is confirmed that facial mimicry provides feedback that is used to judge the meaning of a smile but supports the notion that mimicry is dependent on social context.
Do you think you can fake an emotion and give a great impression by showing a happy face even if you are not ? Well it depends, but if your smile is fake, the muscles around your eyes are not stimulated and it gives a weird feeling that your face is not reflecting what you are saying to people listening to you. French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne was first to demonstrate the differences and since then genuine smiles are often referred to as Duchenne smiles.
In a study done by San Francisco State University Psychology Professor David Matsumoto, the facial expressions of sighted and blind judo athletes at the 2004 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games were captured in more than 4,000 photographs of athletes from 23 countries. The statistical correlation between the facial expressions of sighted and blind individuals was almost perfect,” Matsumoto said. This suggests that facial expressions of emotion are innate rather than a product of cultural learning.
Few studies have been conducted on cross-cultural differences in facial expressions related to emotions. A recent study published in February 2011 by School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, surprisingly demonstrated that male and female participants from four different countries gave an overall rating patterns that support the universality of emotion judgement. However culture influences the intensity of the rating of natural, dynamic emotional stimuli. Another study conducted by the University of Glasgow demonstrated great cultural differences in facial expression but it was done using pictures.
I think that both innate and learned facial expressions give clues to observers when they mimic instinctively the expression of the other person. Showing empathy and emotional intelligence including intuition and active listening are the most important skills needed to communicate in a multicultural environment.
Botox may reduce your capability to respond to other people’s emotions by paralyzing facial muscles making you unable to respond spontaneously to other people’s emotions. Many studies demonstrated that Botox users didn’t feel emotions as deeply as non-users. This negative effect on natural expression of emotions should be consistent in all cultures.
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