The effect of facial feedback through facilitated and inhibited facial expressions

Essay by 0030University, Bachelor'sB, March 2004

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The aim of the current study was to predict that people's facial activity influence their responses. The design partially replicated a previous study where three hundred and twenty five, (251 females and 74 males) university undergraduates took part in the experiment. Participants were instructed to hold a pen in their mouths to either inhibit or facilitate the muscles associated with smiling, without knowing the true nature of the experiment. Participants rated cartoons on a scale of 0 - 9. Those who displayed facilitated smile report a slightly higher rating than those who had inhibited their smile, supporting the predicted hypothesis. Results demonstrated that facilitated mechanisms may contribute to response and lends support to the Facial Feedback Hypothesis.

How the signaling of human facial expressions influence emotional experience is a fascinating system that has impact both on external and internal environments. This notion has been of early review by Darwin (1872) who's thoughts are that muscular facial activity can have a strengthening or inhibiting affect on emotional experience.

This concept extends across every culture with universally recognized attributes (Westen, 2002) and has been regarded in developmental, personality, social and physiological psychology as well as delving into the world of neuroscience (Izard, 1990). The testing of this phenomenon has lead theorists to examine what is known as The Facial Feedback Hypothesis (FFH).

Two general theories about the way facial expressions mediate effects have surfaced. According to Strack, Martin and Stepper, (1988), Laird's early study proposed that cognitive processes (self perceptive) are the underlying factor of determining ones mood ie; when one smiles they therefore assume self happiness. On the contrary other theorists like Jacobson (1929, cited in Izard, 1990), propose that physiological processes are the determinant factors of emotion, due to an increase of neuromuscular activity (ie; facial expression...