Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Facial Expressions

  • Alan J. Fridlund
  • Carlos Crivelli
  • Sergio Jarillo
  • José-Miguel Fernández-Dols
  • James A. RussellEmail author
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_797-2



Psychologists’ interest in facial expressions arose from the long-standing belief that, just as our dreams were Freud’s royal road to the unconscious, our smiles, frowns, pouts, grimaces, and other faces are the royal road to our emotions. The phrase “facial expression” is a presupposition that some event inside, typically an emotion, is pushed outside for public consumption. To avoid any such presupposition, facial behavior is used here to describe the movements and positioning of the facial muscles. Likewise, emitter and observer are used to avoid implying that any “content” is necessarily transferred by the face.


Human facial behavior results from a set of roughly 20 muscles. Except for the masseter, which clenches the jaw, these muscles originate on the bones of the face but insert in the skin, where they act as tractors, dilators, or sphincters that modify the orifices formed by the eyes,...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan J. Fridlund
    • 1
  • Carlos Crivelli
    • 2
  • Sergio Jarillo
    • 3
  • José-Miguel Fernández-Dols
    • 4
  • James A. Russell
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.University of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.De Montfort UniversityLeicesterUK
  3. 3.American Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Universidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  5. 5.Boston CollegeBostonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Steven Arnocky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and SciencesNipissing UniversityNorth BayCanada