Universal Expressions Project

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Chapter 3 endnote 26, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

...an ongoing series of studies called the Universal Expressions Project is attempting to document what is universal about emotional expressions in the face, body, and voice.

The Universal Expression Project began with one intrepid and creative young psychologist, Daniel Cordaro, who traveled to five countries across four continents, asking people to pose their facial and vocal expressions of different emotions. Then, using the basic emotion method, Cordaro had test subjects in various cultures choose from a small set of words to identify facial and vocal configurations. I asked Cordaro, via email, whether he was testing subjects’ emotion perception via any other means, and he indicated that that they had not done so yet, but to his credit he said had plans to do so.

The Universal Expressions Project is asking people to portray their beliefs about emotion. So we are learning what people believe about emotion, which may or may not bear any resemblance to how people actually move their faces and bodies, and what their voices sound like, during emotions. Over 30 years of solid research in social psychology shows that what people believe, and what they actually do, are very different.[1][2][3]

If Cordaro really wants to show that his collected posed facial and vocal configurations are not mere stereotypes and are naturalistic (and realistic), he’ll have to demonstrate, using perceiver-independent measurements, that people spontaneously emit these configurations during episodes of emotion.


Notes on the Notes

  1. Robinson, Michael D., and Gerald L. Clore. 2002. "Belief and feeling: evidence for an accessibility model of emotional self-report." Psychological Bulletin 128 (6): 934.
  2. Wilson, Timothy D. 2002. Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious. Belknap Press.
  3. Ross, Michael. 1989. "Relation of implicit theories to the construction of personal histories." Psychological Review 96 (2), 341-357.