Ohio State University
School of Music
Notes by Eric Berg
May 15, 2001
Fridlund, Alan J. (1994).
Human Facial Expression: An Evolutionary View.
San Diego: Academic Press.
"This book is about the nature of human facial expressions.
It provides a scientific account of human faces
that squares with modern evolutionary theory." (pg. xi)
1. Pre-Darwinian Views on Facial Expression.
Physiognomy -- "Face-reading",
known in ancient Egypt and Arabia and pre-Confucian China
(where a high forehead portended good fortune, eyes indicated
energy and intelligence, nose = wealth
and achievement, mouth = personality).
Pythagoras probably began the scientific study of physiognomy.
First treatise ca. 340 B.C.
? attributed to Aristotle who believed that physiognomic traits
were best discerned by comparing people with animals.
He did not regard the reading of emotions
as particularly important.
During the middle ages, Europe turned to the occult
and facial features indicated a persons
fate rather than temperament.
In the Renaissance, Giambattista Della Porta returned
to Aristotle's method, comparing people to animals,
one could determine whether someone was "sanguine, phlegmatic,
melancholy or choleric." (p. 3)
In the late 18th century, physiognomy was joined by phrenology
(reading bumps on one's head)
"having one's head examined."
By mid 19th century, these `sciences' were used to assert racist ideas,
relating various traits to general health, intelligence and morality.
Charles LeBrun -- interest in the "passions",
(the six "simple" ones of Descarte), his
"readout" was "mostly in the eyebrows"
closest to the pineal gland and the soul.
Leading to Darwin's attempt to "link iconlike faces with
discrete `basic emotions.'" (p. 11)
2. Darwin's Anti-Darwinism in Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.
Formal evolutionary treatment of facial display --
Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. (1872)
Fridlund argues that, for Darwin:
1) Expression was an attack on the creationist
view of facial expression.
2) Most displays were not evolutionary adaptations, but vestiges or accidents.
3) Expressions had not been selected for communication.
an attack on `Special Creation' and `Directed Evolution.'
Darwin believed that many common expressions were derived
from "serviceable acts", i.e.,
"startle (from jumping away),
head-scratching during problem solving (problem is an `irritant'),
tearing in sadness (both from ocular irritation." (p. 22)
-- tied to his "use-inheritance", or "Lamarckian evolution."
3. Facial Expression and the Methods of Contemporary Evolutionary Research.
What kinds of evidence for evolutionary development of display?
Note: Fridlund suggests that
brow knitting and raising derived from actions that previously
moved ears. (pp. 41-42)
(i.e., out of the way in danger and forward in interest.)
Must also consider other problems such as convergent evolution, environment .
Comparison of morphology, i.e., bone structure, musculature, molecular biology as a means to
examine species relatedness.
Neural Localization -- genetic control for display:
Fridlund examines the smile.
Localization of neural controls of a smile are difficult and complex.
Selective Breeding -- "artificial selection" --
directed breeding of specific traits.
Have not been used to study humans, but Fridlund thinks that
the method (in animals) shows promise.
Comparative approach -- "Like actions do not imply homology."
i.e., wing of bird vs. wing of
bat. (different underlying physical structures)
4. Mechanisms for the Evolution of Facial Expressions.
Displays as hypertrophied behavior
(i.e., oversized claws, antlers and feathers)
"Human facial displays are dramatic and seem optimized for signal value."
i.e., a product of sexual selection.
Use-inheritance vs. selectionist.
Displays as formalized intention movements.
Displays are elaborations upon two types of movements,
social instrumental habits and protective reflexes.
Vigilance for displays probably evolved in three ways:
sensitivity to displays (face scanning, i.e., eyes, nose and mouth.)
selectivity about particular components
(cognitive templates of displays similar to those of
i.e., those of birdsong in one's own species.)
skepticism about the meaning of the display.
("calibration" skills relating to context, i.e.,
blue jays and viceroy vs. monarch butterflies.)
Fridlund makes a passing comment which is important.
He mentions the notion of `efficiency'
with regard to the degree of display,
that is, good enough to get the job done.
5. Facial Hardware: The Nerves and Muscles of the Face.
Facial musculature --
divided into superfacial muscles (major mimetic muscles)
and the deep muscles (muscles of mastication)
- contralateralm with some ipsilateral, also differentiation
of control between upper and lower portions of the face.
Why? Greater spatial extensibility incorporates greater
contralateral neural connections.
(mouth and tongue require very fine control)
Separate nerves control each group.
Nerves for each type of sensation
(pain, heat and cold, etc.) and sensory apparatus(eye,
6. Facial Reflexes and the Ontogeny of Facial Displays.
Three kinds of facial reflexes:
irritation of cornea, nasal membrane, pharynx,and uvula (also with speech)
pupillary retraction light, eyeblink for incoming object, pain, etc.
Jaw closure to tap to middle chin or lower teeth or jaw.
Other kinds of reflexes
Blushing -- Fridlund didn't like Darwin's treatment of blushing.
Protective displays as phyletic preadaptations
ear movement relating to brow knitting, raising;
head shaking during oral rejection = "No"
"Reflexes as constituent actions in the ontogenesis of displays:
reflex cooption during maturation --
infant dog paddle to adult swimming; startle reflex to
infant rooting to adult kissing
(problem = kissing is culture bound) Problem:
What does it mean to coopt a reflex
Conventionalization of reflex actions -- shaped by parents' reactions.
Imitation and social shaping -- "pure pedegogy"
"Mimetic theory" and the production of facial analogies --
"sour is to lemon as sweet is to ice cream." ;
"the face I make to you is the one I make to ice cream."
7. Emotions versus Behavioral Ecology Views of Facial Expression: Theory and Concepts.
Emotions view of faces -- "decoupled reflex",
or emotions as non-specific adaptations.
Facial configurations are innate, universal expressions
of four fundamental emotions:
happiness, sadness, anger, fear
-- these are modified by socialization.
Behavioral Ecology view of faces -- "felt" smile = ready to play,
"false" smile = appeasement,
"sad" face = recruitment of succor,
"anger" face = readiness to attack, "leaked" anger =
conflict about attack, etc. Page 129)
-- displays occur due to social motivation and are
interpreted by contextual interaction.
Fridlund's problems with Emotions view:
Neglects cost of automatic expression
Omits recipient's coevolutionary role
Presumes adult faces are dissimulated variations of infant faces
Does not account for poor relationship between emotions and facial displays.
8. Emotions versus Behavioral Ecology Views of Facial Expression: The State of the Evidence.
Fridlund argues displays as linked to sexual selection and all
that accompanies it including "social cognition":
"It is inconceivable that even a very primitive animal line could have
survived without signals relating to copulation and sexual selection,
the acquisition and protection of territory and the
deterrence of predation." (p. 142)
Argues that the widespread use
of deception further supports the Behavioral view.
Audience Effects and the Context Dependency of Displays.
"If displays serve social motives throughout phylogeny,
then across species their occurrence should be a function not
only of the proximal elicitors, but of those who are present, one's
aims towards them, and the context of the interaction." (p. 145),
Fridlund indicates that such
effects are observed in non-humans --
"feline flank-rubbing" experiment.
Other effects observed in squirrels, vervet monkeys,
chickens (pp. 148-150)
Humans "smiles" bowling alley.(Kraut and Johnston, 1979)
Video taped taste tests -- Brightman, Segal, Werther, and Steiner (1977)
Facial expressions and degrees of social interaction (p. 159)
Do Fundamental Emotions Underlie Facial Displays?
The search for "physiological correlates" for each "hypothetical emotion"
Experiments that attempt to measure physiological reactions were confounded by the great
variety of emotional triggers.
Implication is that : "Whether an organism is angry --
whatever one means by that term -- should
have less bearing on autonomic functioning than the
fact that it acts angry." (p. 171)
9. Introduction: Cross-Cultural Studies of Facial Expressions of Emotion.
Emotions View -- "fundamental emotions" correspond with genetically
controlled prototype faces.
Fridlund states that many cross-cultural studies,
which were a reaction to cultural
relativism, were not mindful of limitations:
Innateness does not necessarily require universality.
Communalities across cultures may reflect convergent evolution or learning.
Findings of non-universality would not exclude innateness of
facial displays -- differences could be due founder effects or
genetic drift, not just culture-specific convention, i.e.,
congenital skin color does not mean that skin color is innate.
10. Is There Universal Recognition of Emotion from Facial Expression? A Review of the
Cross-Cultural Studies, by James A. Russell.
While many studies seemed to support the idea of universality in
facial expressions, Fridlund
presented some concerns about a variety of factors:
No cross-cultural studies of recognition of emotion from
spontaneous facial expressions.
High base rate of specific labels
Random choice on certain trials
Use of forced-choice response format
Problems in encoding or decoding the experiment.
Also assumes cross-cultural equivalents of particular emotions,
Assumes accuracy of translation.
Assumes subjects are culturally able to describe particular emotions.
Fridlund discusses numerous "Judgement Studies in Literate Cultures"
and "Judgement Studies in Isolated Cultures",
reflects on the degree of likely contact with Western peoples and the
possible contamination of study.
Ultimately, Fridlund seems to conclude that there are still confounds
(definitional issues, for example) and that there is still not enough
evidence to conclude anything for certain regarding
universalities of emotion.
He does feel that we need to abandon the forced choice of
randomness vs. universality.
Suggests the use of multiple methods, converging evidence.
11. How Do We Account for Both Universal and Regional Variations in Facial Expressions of Emotion?
Ekman's Neuro-cultural modal.
Facial Affect Program (basic emotions) -- Mediation by
End Product* (* = Partly culture specific) (p. 271)
On page 274 Fridlund presents some problems.
A primary one was that there were no criteria to determine
whether a display represented a basic emotion or one belonging
to a blended category or when
display rules were in effect.
12. Facial Paralanguage and Gesture.
"Most facial displays do not even connote emotion;
instead, they occur amid speech.", from
Darwin "the movements of expression give vividness and
energy to our spoken word." (p. 296)
Types of Human Paralanguage
Emblems - "sentences imparted using the face" i.e.,
"tongue in cheek" = "I'm skeptical" or
"I'm worried about what you will say.";
A conversation smile may say "I agree with you" or "I
recognize what you are talking about."
Replaced by "emoticons" in email, i.e.,
[Self-] manipulators -- motor activities like rubbing,
scratching ourselves, running hands
through hair, moving various body parts, etc.
Illustrators -- Raising eyebrows = "what do you want?";
or raise our brows and tilt our heads
as a substitute for finger pointing.
Regulators -- actions that are used to negotiate the
control of the conversational environment.
What about the bodily gestures so many people use in ordinary conversation?
13. Epilogue: The Study of Facial Displays ? Where Do We Go From Here?
"In line with a Behavioral Ecology View of facial displays,
I believe that a "Facial Elicitor Coding System" is overdue.
FECS would consist not of emotions, but of social interactions that
are specified, and ethnographically equated,
according to social roles, motives and interaction contexts.
In the case of paralanguage, facial displays would be compared
while controlling for semantic, syntactic, and prosodic features of speech."
Fridlund is also optimistic about various genetic studies
(e.g., twin studies) and evolutionary studies.
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