List of Human Facial Expressions – A Thorough View!

Facial expressions are the most important aspect of non verbal communication. There is a lot of scientific research on human facial expression. Firstly it was said that human face can show only 6 basic expressions i.e. happiness, surprise, sadness, anger, fear and disgust. Prominent scientific thinkers from past, like  Aristotle, Rene Descartes, Guillaume Duchenne and Charles Darwin have said that there are little basic emotions that people express. But today science revealed a list of human facial expressions that there are 21 emotions (some scientists said 22) that human face can express. Cognitive Scientist Aleix Martinez of Ohio State University in Columbus said:

I thought it was very odd to have only one positive emotion

List of Human Facial Expressions

Research on Facial Expressions

So, Aleix and his team made a team of volunteers and told them to imagine them in a specific scenario that will boost emotions like happy, disgusted or sad, surprised and many more. After analyzing each and every fine detail like eyebrow movement, mouth stretch, eye wrinkle etc. they discovered that same facial muscles had been used for each and every compound expression. This research has been presented in the national academy of science.

We’ve gone beyond facial expressions for simple emotions like “happy” or “sad”, said top researcher Dr Aleix Martinez.

We found a strong consistency in how people move their facial muscles to express 21 categories of emotions.

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List of Human Facial Expressions:

Speaking broadly, it is said that there are total 21 human expressions. In this article we will be giving a thorough review to the List of Human Facial Expressions. They are as follows:

  1. Happy
  2. Sad
  3. Fearful
  4. Angry
  5. Surprised
  6. Disgusted
  7. Appalled
  8. Fearfully surprised
  9. Fearfully disgusted
  10. Angrily surprised
  11. Angrily disgusted
  12. Disgustedly surprise
  13. Hatred
  14. Awed
  15. Happily surprise
  16. Happily disgusted
  17. Sadly fearful
  18. Sadly angry
  19. Sadly surprised
  20. Sadly disgusted
  21. Fearfully angry

List of Human Facial Expressions

Ohio University also carried out experiments on human facial expressions, they made up a team of 230 volunteers in order to practice six basic emotions. They were also  ordered to express compound expressions like sadly surprised, sadly disgusted and many others. Moreover, they were also told to practice their emotions in front of mirror before taking photograph. Then results were observed and monitored carefully catching each and every detail. It was quite shocking that 21 expressions were revealed in an entirely different way from each other better say discretely. There was a wide difference between each and every expression. Most of the volunteers express happiness by uplifting their cheeks and stretching their mouth. In this research 99% of the volunteers expressed their happiness like that. Moreover, surprise facial expression was also easily monitored with 92% of volunteers dropping their jaws and opening eyes widely.

If someone is happily disgusted then he will express all the muscles concerned with showing happiness with addition of disgusted expressions. This shows that behind compound expressions there is are some features of individual emotions.

List of Human Facial Expressions

Alex basically analyzed 5000 images through computer, resolving them down by each facial muscles the participants used. In 1978, Paul Ekman firstly  defined  them, who tabulated facial expressions in the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) via action units. Group of muscles that make our facial expressions like lip parts (for showing disgust), showing teeth (for expressing happiness), mouth stretch (for fear), or eyelid tightening (for anger) were examined thoroughly by this psychologist.

We don’t know for sure how much is learned or innate in expressing these emotions, tells Martinez.

But what we do know is that a big component has to be innate because otherwise different people would use different muscles to show the same emotion.

Emotions are unified quantity. They are similar in every region of the world but culture has a strong impact over it. People might express their emotions in different ways. This research shows that culture has also a strong impact on expressing emotions. It is also being said that research on facial expressions will help autism, post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

It’s important to understand which are categories of emotions that we have -Martinez.

A deep and thorough understanding of facial expression study will help psychologists to figure out the pathological ones and to detect harmful diseases.

What our research shows is that not all facial muscles appear simultaneously during facial expressions, but rather develop over time.  Rachel Jack the lead researcher at university of Glasgow.

He added that the researchers intend to develop their study by looking at facial expressions of different cultures, including East Asian populations whom they have already ascertained interpret some of the six classical emotions differently – placing more emphasis on eye signals than mouth movements compared to Westerners.

Their research shows that not all of the facial muscles appear during facial expressions simultaneously rather, these expressions develop over time. There are 42 different and discrete muscles in the face and these researchers have worked on every detail of these 42 muscles in order to bring out the best results.