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Human Smiles: Expression of Emotion or Communication Gesture?
Unformatted Document Text:  Kurylo & Frank Smiles and Communication 7 1982; Frank & Ekman, 1993; Izard, 1971, 1994). Those displays that are voluntarily produced would be likely to occur in the presence of others; whereas, Buck (1984) explains, “when a sender is alone . . . he or she should feel little pressure to present a proper image to others, and any emotion expressed under such circumstances should be more likely to reflect an actual motivational/ emotional state” (p. 20). Ekman’s (1977) theory proposes that while some basic human emotions have specific patterns expressions in the face, the ultimate expression of these emotions is altered, exacerbated, attenuated, falsified, or hidden by social learning processes dependent on cultural norms and customs. Ekman called the culturally determined rules that regulate these expressions “display rules” (Ekman & Friesen, 1969). Evidence for display rules includes findings that the presence of other people serves both to inhibit (Kleck, Vaughan, Cartwright- Smith, Colby, & Lanzetta, 1976) and facilitate the expression of emotion (Friedman & Miller-Herringer, 1991). It may be that these display rules account for the seemingly contradictory findings of the cultural-relativists and the universalists. Maybe what the relativists were seeing in facial expressions was the product of cultural learning, where people learned what expression to show and when. For example, people may have learned to smile when performing badly, like when throwing a “gutter ball” when bowling (Kraut & Johnston, 1979). Maybe what the universalists were seeing was a core emotional expression related to a specific emotion. For example, when subjects view a gory scene like an amputation, or a comedy video whilst alone, one is seeing an unadulterated emotion. However, for this concept of display rules to not be an unfalsifiable assertion, there must be some

Authors: Kurylo, Anastacia. and Frank, Mark.
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background image
Kurylo & Frank
Smiles and Communication
7
1982; Frank & Ekman, 1993; Izard, 1971, 1994). Those displays that are voluntarily
produced would be likely to occur in the presence of others; whereas, Buck (1984)
explains, “when a sender is alone . . . he or she should feel little pressure to present a
proper image to others, and any emotion expressed under such circumstances should be
more likely to reflect an actual motivational/ emotional state” (p. 20). Ekman’s (1977)
theory proposes that while some basic human emotions have specific patterns expressions
in the face, the ultimate expression of these emotions is altered, exacerbated, attenuated,
falsified, or hidden by social learning processes dependent on cultural norms and
customs. Ekman called the culturally determined rules that regulate these expressions
“display rules” (Ekman & Friesen, 1969). Evidence for display rules includes findings
that the presence of other people serves both to inhibit (Kleck, Vaughan, Cartwright-
Smith, Colby, & Lanzetta, 1976) and facilitate the expression of emotion (Friedman &
Miller-Herringer, 1991).
It may be that these display rules account for the seemingly contradictory findings
of the cultural-relativists and the universalists. Maybe what the relativists were seeing in
facial expressions was the product of cultural learning, where people learned what
expression to show and when. For example, people may have learned to smile when
performing badly, like when throwing a “gutter ball” when bowling (Kraut & Johnston,
1979). Maybe what the universalists were seeing was a core emotional expression related
to a specific emotion. For example, when subjects view a gory scene like an amputation,
or a comedy video whilst alone, one is seeing an unadulterated emotion. However, for
this concept of display rules to not be an unfalsifiable assertion, there must be some


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