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This article addresses the debate between emotion-expression and motive-communication approaches to facial movements, focusing on Ekman's (1972) and Fridlund's (1994) contrasting models and their historical antecedents. Available evidence suggests that the presence of others either reduces or increases facial responses, depending on the quality and strength of the emotional manipulation and on the nature of the relationship between interactants. Although both display rules and social motives provide viable explanations of audience "inhibition" effects, some audience facilitation effects are less easily accommodated within an emotion-expression perspective. In particular, emotion is not a sufficient condition for a corresponding "expression," even discounting explicit regulation, and, apparently, "spontaneous" facial movements may be facilitated by the presence of others. Further, there is no direct evidence that any particular facial movement provides an unambiguous expression of a specific emotion. However, information communicated by facial movements is not necessarily extrinsic to emotion. Facial movements not only transmit emotion-relevant information but also contribute to ongoing processes of emotional action in accordance with pragmatic theories.

Original publication




Journal article


Pers Soc Psychol Rev

Publication Date





278 - 311


Adaptation, Physiological, Affect, Biological Evolution, Brain, Communication, Culture, Facial Expression, Facial Muscles, Humans, Inhibition (Psychology), Motivation, Movement, Psychological Theory, Social Behavior, Social Facilitation