Facial feedback hypothesis

From How Emotions Are Made
Jump to: navigation, search

Chapter 1 endnote 22, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

The facial feedback hypothesis is highly controversial​—there is wide disagreement on whether a full-blown emotional experience can be evoked this way.

The facial feedback hypothesis states that if you contort your face into a particular configuration for an emotion (say, smiling or pouting), you will cause specific physiological changes associated with that emotion in your body. The hypothesis is often attributed to Darwin, but its formulation originated with Floyd Allport,[1] whom we meet in chapter 8 for his innovative misinterpretation of Darwin's words. Read more about Allport's views on emotion.

Evidence for the facial feedback hypothesis is easily accounted for by the existence of simulation (chapter 2). If you have learned conceptual knowledge that people smile when happy, then when you are asked to contort your facial muscles into a smile, your brain simulates diverse instances of happiness that involve smiling from your past experience. Simulations include what you saw, what you heard, and the state of your body during happiness, also known as embodiment. In other words, there is nothing special about "facial feedback" — it's just ordinary simulation.


Notes on the Notes

  1. Allport, Floyd H. 1924. Social Psychology. New York: Houghton Mifflin.