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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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).
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.
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).
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