Emotions Revealed : Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life – Paul Ekman (Summary of Facial Movements)

Chapter 5
Sadness and Agony

  • Drop your mouth open.
  • Pull the corners of your lips down.
  • While you hold those lip corners down, try no to raise your cheeks, as if you are squinting. This pulls against the lip corners.
  • Maintain this tension between raised cheeks and the lip corners pulling down.
  • Let your eyes look downward and your upper eyelids droop.
  • If you still have not begun to feel any sadness, then try imitating the eyebrows….This is much harder movement for most people to make voluntarily.

  • Pull the inner corners of your eyebrows up in the middle only, not the entire brow.
  • It may help if you also pull your brows together and up in the middle.
  • Let your eyes look downward and your upper eyelids droop.
  • Chapter 6

  • Pull your eyebrows down and together; make certain that the inner corners go down towards your nose.
  • While holding those brows down. try to open your eyes wide, so that your upper eyelids push against your lowered eyebrows, staring hard.
  • Once you are confident that you are making the eyebrow and eyelid movements, relax the upper part of your face and concentrate on the lower part of your face.
  • Press your lips together tightly and tense your lips, don’t pucker, just press.
  • Once you are confident that your are making the right lower-face movements, add in the upper face, lowering your eyebrows, pulling them together, and raising your upper eyelids to produce a stare.
  • Chapter 7
    Surprise and Fear

  • Raise your upper eyelids as high as you can, and if you are able, also slightly tense your eyelids; if tensing your lower eyelids interferes with your upper eyelids, then just focus on raising your upper eyelids.
  • Let your jaw drop open, and stretch your lips horizontally back toward your ears…
  • If you can’t do this after trying a few times, then just let your jaw hang open and don’t try to stretch your lips horizontally.
  • With your upper eyelids raised as high as they can go, staring straight ahead, raise your eyebrows as high as you can; try to see if you can also pull your eyebrows together while you keep your brows raised; if you can’t do both, then just keep the eyebrows raised with your upper eyelids raised.
  • Pay attention to the feelings in your face, in your stomach, in your hands and your legs. Check your breathing, and whether your face and hands feel cool or warm.

    Chapter 8
    Disgust and Contempt
    Many years ago I distinguished contempt from disgust in the following ways:

    Contempt is only experienced about people or the action of people, but not about tastes, smells or touches. Stepping onto dog droppings might call forth disgust, but never contempt; the idea of eating calves’ brain might be disgusting, but it would not evoke contempt. You might, however, feel contemptuous toward people who eat such disgusting things, for in contempt there is an element of condescension toward the object of contempt. Disdainful in disliking the persons or their actions, you feel superior(usually morally) to them. Their offense is degrading, but you need not necessarily get away from them, as you would in disgust.
    (extract below is slightly altered to make it readable)
    The upper lip is raised as high as it will go. The lower lip is raised, also and is protruding slightly. The wrinkle extending from above nostrils downward to beyond his lip corners is deep, and its shape forms an inverted U. Nostril wings are raised, while wrinkles appear on the sides and bridge of nose. The raising of cheeks and lowering of brows creates crow’s-feet wrinkles. These are all marks of extreme disgust.
    …It is the changes in the nose, mouth and cheeks that are important, not the changes in the eyes. The eyelid muscles are relaxed than tensed.
    …When the expression is unbalanced, it can signal it can signal disgust or it may be a sign of contempt.
    …If the action is only on one side of the face and the lip corner is tightened and slightly raised it is a clear contempt expression. If the action is stronger and causes lips to part slightly on one side, it can signal disgust or contempt.


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