As social creatures, non-verbal communication through facial expression is important in portraying emotions – and because of this, it’s interpreted rapidly and accurately.Regardless of culture, defined
facial expressions exist. It’s long been thought anger, surprise, contempt, disgust, happiness and sadness are recognised universally by humans, although even this has been questionedmore recently.
These expressions are often involuntary and their universality allows cross-cultural interpretation. Certain expressions can also be interpreted in a cross-species manner: the expression of an enraged dog prevents us from unwittingly approaching a potential danger whereas a contented dog invites our approach.
But when the emotional expression is intense – is it really that easy to interpret? A study released today in Science suggests we may actually struggle to discriminate extreme emotions.
by Amy Reichelt @theconversation