This literature review will aim to discuss the universality of facial expressions of emotion drawing up points from a biological social and psychological view. Focusing on the debate of whether universal facial expressions of emotion exist through the biological perspective and if they don’t through a social perspective. As a result the biological and social perspective will be both merged to clarify the presence of certain universal expressions or emotion and the absence of others. Thus touching upon Charles Darwin’s theory, an anthropological cultural perspective, studies with blind children, and a study on mirco-expression and corpse muscles and finally language as a limitation. Since Facial expressions are the communication of emotion. As well as emotional images stimulate facial expressions.
Firstly, the universality of emotion from a biological perspective will be discussed. Charles Darwin an evolutionary theorist, claimed that all human facial expressions are result of evolutionary means of survival for example an expression of anger would indicate a defensive state to warn off predators. Whereas a disgusted facial expression may be indicator of rotten food, something poisonous or pugnacious or unsuitable for consumption. It is important to note that Darwin suggested the relationship between communication and facial expressions (Face-and-emotion.com, 2014). This point also further explains the usefulness of facial expressions from psychological in terms of learning behaviour. An infant or another member of the group, would interpret that facial expression as disgust and realized that what was consumed is not suitable for digestion and should therefore be avoided.
Yet controversially, from a social point of view many expressions are not shared cross-culturally which may disclaim the theory of universal facial expressions of emotion. As shown in a study between western and eastern facial expressions where “disgust” and “fear” where not easily identifiable between from a member of a different culture (Jack & Blais et al., 2009). This study states the complexities of human facial expression. Where the mere fixation of eye position may change an interpretation of a facial expression. Hence, from this example it may be concluded that facial expressions are probably not a universal language to convey human emotions as may have been suggested by Darwin but rather a cultural taught expression. Thus, it still may very well be a mean of communication but on a cultural level. Facial expressions are more easily distinguishable between members in a cultural group they can interpret each other’s facial expression more accurately. This give members of a group an advantage in understanding each other as stated in (Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002)
Interestingly though, studies on children who have been blind since birth, still express emotions by means of facial expressions. This point supports the previous assumption of the universality of expressions of...