Silvan Tomkins, world recognised guru on emotional states, (1911 – 1991), believed that there are eight basic expressions which are:
1) Surprise, 2) Interest, 3) Joy, 4) Rage, 5) Fear, 6) Disgust, 7) Shame, 8) Anguish
The chalk picto-faces on this page have been drawn with deliberate simplicity to show how a circle with only a few lines within it can be recognised as a distinctive facial expression with a strong corresponding emotion. It is important to note that humans actually use a far wider range of facial expressions than the eight depicted on this page.
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Facial expressions are the foundations of body language. Some are instinctive and some are learned by watching others and then mimicking them. It’s a fact that children see the gestures used by their parents and copy them as natural behaviour.
As usual, scientists and researchers disagree on the exact number of basic facial expressions. Charles Darwin is recognised as publishing the first serious scientific study in 1872 and in his work “the Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals” he claims to have identified 13 that can be considered universal. These are: astonishment, shame, fear, horror, pride, hatred, wrath, love, joy, guilt, anxiety, shyness, and modesty.
It’s worth noting that many other people before Darwin appreciated the importance of facial expressions and their link to human emotions.
“Beauty without expression is boring.”
This was proposed by Ralph Waldo Emerson an American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist who lived between 1803-1882.
“Sweet babe, in thy face soft desires I can trace, secret joys and secret smiles, little pretty infant wiles” (From the poem Sleep! Sleep! Beauty Bright) This was written by William Blake an English visionary, Mystic, Poet, Painter and Engraver who lived between 1757-1827. He clearly understood the importance of facial expressions.