Human Facial Expressions Originated as Adaptive Reactions to Environmental Stimuli
As emotions change, human facial expressions also vary. As per a study, these changes occur due to adaptive reactions to environmental stimuli.
To cite an example, people widen up their eyes when they are afraid, and when they are angry they narrow their eyes. Prof. Adam Anderson in Cornell's College of Human Ecology said by widening up the eyes, field of vision gets expanded to locate danger.
On the other hand, narrowing eyes block light and increases the focus on the source of their anger. Anderson was of the view that the human facial expressions were due to the adaptive reactions to surroundings and initially, were not used as form of communicating things.
The current theory supports the Charles Darwin's 19th century theories on the evolution of emotion. "These opposing functions of eye widening and narrowing, which mirror that of pupil dilation and constriction, might be the primitive origins for the expressive capacity of the face", said Anderson.
Anderson affirmed that these expressions are not generally restricted to fear and disgust. These movements play a crucial role as to how all expressions differ like surprise, anger and happiness. The study has also led to Anderson affirming that eyes are perfect medium to reveal emotions within and reflecting the reality. Through the study, it has been found that emotions influences vision as soon as the visual encoding is done.
It is not the end of the study, as Anderson has expanded its study area. Anderson will now be studying different eye movements as they may explain how facial expressions have evolved to make nonverbal communication better across cultures.
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