Facial Expression Test Quiz

“What’s that facial expression?” Quiz

There is not one singular facial expression for any of the seven universal emotions, but many, which often reflect the intensity and purity of the emotion.

Taken by Dr. Ekman and his colleagues for research studies and publications, these photographs (some decades old) continue to be used in academic settings and for special research applications in across many industries. They show the facial blueprints of the major emotions—how surprise, fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and happiness are registered by changes in the forehead, eyebrows, eyelids, cheeks, nose, lips, and chin.

Put your emotion detection skills to the test with this facial expression quiz.

Instructions: For each of the emotions below, choose the facial expression that does NOT display a facial expression of that emotion.


1. Anger

Correct! Wrong!

C is disgust, not anger. Anger can be confused with, and misinterpreted as, disgust since both expressions typically include lowered eyebrows and curled lips. However, a clear sign that you’re seeing disgust in photo C is the nose wrinkling, a facial movement not seen in anger.

2. Contempt

Correct! Wrong!

B is disgust, not contempt. The tightening in the corner of the lips is evident in the three photos of contempt, whereas the nose wrinkling in photo B is evident of a disgust expression. In photo B you will see the nostril wings are raised, and wrinkling appearing on the sides and bridge of the nose, all clear signs of disgust.

3. Disgust

Correct! Wrong!

D is anger, not disgust. Here’s another example of the differences between anger and disgust. Picture D shows a combination of three actions commonly associated with anger- lowered brow, tensed lower eyelid, and a glare in the eyes.

4. Enjoyment

Correct! Wrong!

A is contempt, not enjoyment. The giveaway that photo A is contempt and not enjoyment is the unilateral movement of the lip raising. Contempt is the only facial expression that is reliably exhibited by a unilateral raising of the lip corners (on just one side of the face.)

5. Fear

Correct! Wrong!

C is surprise, not fear. Fear and surprise are commonly mistaken for one another. In the other photos displaying fear you will see both a raising of the upper eyelid and a tensing of the lower eyelid as well as a pulling together of the eyebrows. In photo C, which displays surprise, the upper eyelid is raised (though the lower lid is not tensed) and the eyebrows are raised (but not pulled together).

6. Sadness

Correct! Wrong!

B is fear, not sadness. Sadness and fear are both often evident in the expression of the eyes and eyebrows. Photo B shows an expression of fear, with the raised upper eyelids and raised eyebrows. The other photos, displaying variations of sadness, show drooping upper eyelids and a pulling together of the inner corners of the eyebrows.

7. Surprise

Correct! Wrong!

A is fear, not surprise. Here again we have the easily confused surprise and fear expressions. All photos show to some extent an opening of the jaw (which is often seen in both fear and surprise), though the simultaneous stretching back of the lips is only seen in fear (in photo A) and not surprise (in the rest of the photos).

Facial Expression Test Quiz
Keep trying! Your score reflects a good deal of room to improve your interpretation of emotions and facial expressions. For you, we recommend starting with the Face Basics training package to help you focus on building a strong foundation to identify emotions quickly and correctly, especially when someone is lying or trying to conceal how they feel.
Nice job! Your score reflects average emotional facial expression recognition, although there is still room to improve your emotional awareness (EQ) and understanding of nonverbal facial cues. For you, we recommend starting with the Face Advanced training package to help you focus on strengthening your detection skills when faced with micro and subtle facial expressions. These are expressions that are only visible for a fraction of a second and reveal a person’s true feelings, particularly when they’re attempting to hide or mask those emotions. Build your detection skills for better communication and awareness in every setting.
Impressive work! Your score reflects above-average emotional facial expression recognition. For you, we recommend taking your skills to the next level with the Ekman Library training package. In order to maximize your results and fully benefit from your high emotional awareness (EQ), learn how to spot micro and subtle facial expressions with the same level of accuracy and confidence. With a little practice, you’ll be able to see nonverbal signs and emotional cues, even when people are trying to hide or lie about their true feelings!

Share your Results:

Paul Ekman is a well-known psychologist and co-discoverer of micro expressions. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine in 2009. He has worked with many government agencies, domestic and abroad. Dr. Ekman has compiled over 50 years of his research to create comprehensive training tools to read the hidden emotions of those around you.

Comments 1

Leave a Reply