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Reading emotions and faces

Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, when dis­cussing dif­fer­ent Frontal Lobe, func­tions in his Wis­dom Para­dox book, adds that “Exec­u­tive intel­li­gence” includes “the abil­i­ty to pen­e­trate oth­er people’s minds, and that starts with an inter­est in oth­er people’s minds.”

What do we call a win­dow into oth­er people’s emo­tions? A face.

braintop Paul Ekman has con­duct­ed exten­sive research on iden­ti­fy­ing emo­tions through facial expres­sions. As part of that research, and as part of the pow­er of dis­ci­pline and train­ing, he learned how to con­scious­ly manip­u­late 42 facial mus­cles, includ­ing many that in most of us are beyond our con­trol, and even aware­ness.

Based on pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary research, he found that there are sev­en emo­tions expressed in the face in uni­ver­sal­ly con­sis­tent ways:
— Sad­ness
— Anger
— Sur­prise
— Fear
— Enjoy­ment
— Dis­gust
— Con­tempt

Even more inter­est­ing: accord­ing to his research, feel­ings and facial expres­sions influ­ence each oth­er. This is, not only a sad per­son will nat­u­ral­ly look sad, but a per­son who inten­tion­al­ly smiles will feel more con­tent than a per­son who doesn’t.

Ques­tion: from left to right, top then down, what uni­ver­sal feel­ing does each face indi­cate?


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12 Responses

  1. Pat says:

    Anger Fear Sur­prise
    Con­tempt Enjoy­ment Sad­ness

  2. Alvaro says:

    Very good, Pat!

    Anger Fear Sur­prise
    Con­tempt Enjoy­ment Sad­ness

  3. Chad W Smith says:

    I think the face you are call­ing “Con­tempt” looks more like “Dis­gust” to me. But the mean­ings of those words could be con­sid­ered sim­i­lar.

    I mean, if I am dis­gust­ed by some­one or some­thing — then — at that moment — I am view­ing them with con­tempt.

  4. Mitch says:

    anger, fear, sur­prise
    dis­gust, enjoy­ment, con­tempt

  5. Alex says:

    fury or anger,

    shocked sur­prise with fear,

    nice sur­prise or pre­tend sur­prise or con­vey­ing inter­est in con­ver­sa­tion,

    dis­gust (she seems to be say­ing “ewww!”)


    sad but only sur­face deep sad.

  6. yahobahne says:

    1. anger or con­tempt
    2. fear
    3. sur­prise
    4. dis­gust
    5. eno­joy­ment and
    6. sad­ness

  7. Aaron says:

    Anger, fear, suprised, dis­qust­ed, hap­py =D, and sad 🙁

  8. Julie says:

    anger, fear, sur­prise, dis­gust or contempt,enjoyment, sad­ness

  9. Susie says:

    I read them as anger, fear, sur­prise, dis­gust, enjoyment,and sad­ness.
    I equate the face that I rec­og­nize as dis­guest with a voice say­ing, “Ewwww.”

  10. Carlyn Carter says:

    I thought the METT labeled them hap­pi­ness instead of enjoy­ment and dis­gust instead of con­tempt…

  11. michelle says:

    1. I am so angry
    2. I am com­plete­ly mor­ti­fied
    3. I’m pre­tend­ing to lis­ten but real­ly I am not.
    4. I smell some­thing fun­ny
    5. I am so total­ly like, bored.

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