Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 195–201 | Cite as

What Basic Emotion Theory Really Says for the Twenty-First Century Study of Emotion

  • Dacher KeltnerEmail author
  • Jessica L. Tracy
  • Disa Sauter
  • Alan Cowen


Basic emotion theory (BET) has been, perhaps, the central narrative in the science of emotion. As Crivelli and Fridlund (J Nonverbal Behav 125:1–34, 2019, this issue) would have it, however, BET is ready to be put to rest, facing “last stands” and “fatal” empirical failures. Nothing could be further from the truth. Crivelli and Fridlund’s outdated treatment of BET, narrow focus on facial expressions of six emotions, inattention to robust empirical literatures, and overreliance on singular “critical tests” of a multifaceted theory, undermine their critique and belie the considerable advances guided by basic emotion theory.


Basic emotion Facial expression Vocal expression 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.University of British ColumbiaVancouverUSA
  3. 3.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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