Facial Feedback Hypothesis

1 January 2017

Denise Wiseman Facial Feedback The facial feedback hypothesis states that the action of a person’s facial musculature is a casual agent in the subjective sensation of emotions (Deckers, 2005). Many psychologists agree that the free expression of the physical characteristics of emotions, such as smiling or frowning, are actually direct feedback of the emotion an individual is feeling.

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For example, a smile from a person may cause happiness in another individual while a frown may cause sadness. However, after further research it was determined that facial feedback only moderates the intensity or longevity of an emotion. For example, a study was conducted that required some individuals to hold a pen in their mouth while attending a comedy show. Those individuals did not show physical signs of laughter or amusement but reported being just as amused as the individuals who did not have the pens in their mouth.

Bertrand Russell and Schachter said “emotion is a joint function of autonomic arousal and cognitive attributions or ‘labels’ for that arousal” (Buck, 1980, p. 812). What Bertrand Russell and Schachter are suggesting is that emotions stem from the combination of emotion and the biofeedback effect of facial muscles. Roseman and Smith explain the four observations of emotion-inducing situations. The first in that different appraisals of the same event can produce different emotions.

The second is that the same appraisal of different events can produce the same emotion. Also, the outcome of the appraisal process can produce an involuntary emotion. Lastly, appraisal can happen whether a person is aware of it or not (Deckers, 2005). From these observations by Roseman and Smith it was determined that appraisal of an event occurs in four steps. First, an emotion-inducing event creates a stimulus for emotion. Then, a pre-aware appraisal calculates the negative and positive outcomes of the stimulus favoring the avoidance of danger.

From there the appraisal process comes into awareness and goes through cortical evaluation that focuses on the attitudes, personalities, needs, and goals of the individual. Lastly, the emotion turns into physiological response and behavior. References Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: Biological, Psychological, and Environmental (3rd ed. ) Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon. Buck, R. (1980). Nonverbal Behavior and the Theory of Emotion: The Facial Feedback Hypothesis. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 38(5), 811-824.

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