Emotions and facial expressions may not be related

Posted on August 4, 2013 at 11:55 PM

Wow, an educational and fascinating article about the research of Professor Lisa Barrett, who believes that there may not be a universal facial expression for emotions such as disgust, anger or surprise.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, if you've ever been a client of mine, I'm sure you'll remember me asking you to communicate using "basic" emotions (anger, sadness, fear, happiness and in love). For a long time, psychological research has stated that all human beings display certain facial expressions to communicate these feelings, regardless of cultural background. 

Professor Barrett believes that the best we can do is make a guess at whether someone is happy, sad or frightened. But apart from that, we're pretty much in the dark.

I can tell you from personal experience, I side very much with Professor Barrett on this one. While you can guess at the way the someone else may be feeling, assuming how they are feeling (or worse, telling them how they are feeling) has the potential to be extremely invalidating. 

It can also serve as a useful reminder that your partner (or friends, or housemates) may need regular "weather reports" on your feelings - because they might not be able to see your internal world. 

Categories: Mental health, Educational

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