Qualitative research validating facial expression
The idea that microexpressions exist has its roots in Darwin’s (1872) inhibition hypothesis that suggested that facial actions that cannot be controlled voluntarily may be produced involuntarily even if the individual is trying to control his or her expressions.Research on the neuroanatomical bases of emotional expressions suggests how this occurs.Microexpressions are likely signs of concealed emotions.(They may also be signs of rapidly processed but unconcealed emotional states.) They occur so fast that most people cannot see or recognize them in real time.She is an expert at the Facial Action Coding System and in the conduct of research examining facial expressions and other nonverbal behaviors.She is co-creator of many of the training tools used to teach law enforcement officers and many other individuals how to recognize micro and subtle facial expressions of emotion.Darwin (1872) was the first to suggest that they were universal; his ideas about emotions were a centerpiece of his theory of evolution, suggesting that emotions and their expressions were biologically innate and evolutionarily adaptive, and that similarities in them could be seen phylogenetically.Early research testing Darwin’s ideas, however, was inconclusive (Ekman, Friesen, & Ellsworth, 1972), and the dominant perspective in psychology was that facial expressions were culture-specific – that is, just as every culture had its own verbal language, it had its own language of facial expressions.
Macroexpressions are relatively easy to see if one knows what to look for.
Later, Tomkins recruited Paul Ekman and Carroll Izard to conduct what is known today as the “universality studies.” The first of these demonstrated high cross-cultural agreement in judgments of emotions in faces by people in both literate (Ekman, 1972, 1973; Ekman & Friesen, 1971; Ekman, Sorenson, & Friesen, 1969; Izard, 1971) and preliterate cultures (Ekman & Friesen, 1971; Ekman, et al., 1969).
Then Friesen’s (1972) study documented that the same facial expressions of emotion were produced spontaneously by members of very different cultures in reaction to emotion-eliciting films.
Microexpressions, however, are expressions that go on and off the face in a fraction of a second, sometimes as fast as 1/30 of a second.
They are so fast that if you blink you would miss them.