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Here are some resources to help you enrich your knowledge on facial expression.

Facial expressions in their context

To locate facial expressions in the context of emotional processes, you can read the downloadable document (in French) by clicking here. This document is based on the first chapter of  Philippot (2007). Following this reading, if you wish to know more about emotion in general, we recommend you the book by Paula Niedenthal, Silvia Krauth-Gruber and François Ric (2008), which has been published in French and in English.

To know more about the decoding of the facial expressions

Since the book of Darwin "The expression of the feelings at the man and the animal" in 1872 (fascinating reading on  http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F1142&viewtype=text&pageseq=1), there is ample literature on  the facial expression. The following page of the APA website provides a synthetic synopsis over the history of modern research on facial expression http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan00/sc1.aspx. If you wish a much more exhaustive approach, a classic book is certainly the one by Russell and Fernandez-Dols (1997). A more contextual vision was proposed by Fridlund (1994). This one is summarized in this reading: http://www.bec.ucla.edu/papers/Fridlund_Facial_Expressions.PDF.
Finally, you will find (in french) here a presentation summarizing a course on the decoding of facial expressions.

How to identify the facial expressions

The better known system for identification of facial expression is the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) designed by Ekman and Friesen (1978). It is a coding system identifying 54 actions units, that is 54 different movements from the face. If you want to know more about FACS, this page of wikipedia is reliable, detailed and well documented: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facial_Action_Coding_System

Authentic or feigned smile? What the science teaches us…

If you want to becom an expert for deciphering authentic (Duchenne) smiles from fake smiles, we recommend the excellent site of the BBC on the subject. Make the test, it is eloquent: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles/
After the test, scientific data allowing to decide between both types of smile are exposed.

Facial expression and psychopatology

The research on the biases and the deficits in the recognition or in the expression of the emotion through the face has recently strongly developed. A synthesis has been proposed by Philippot, Coats and Feldman (2003). By clicking here, you will have access to a general chapter on the subject, and here to a chapter dedicated specifically to the decoding of the facial expressions by the persons suffering from anxiety disorders.



Douilliez, C. & Philippot, P. (2006). Fearful face processing in anxiety. In. S. Campanella (Ed.). Fear in Cognitive Neurosciences. Nova Science Publishers.

Fridlund, A.J. (1994). Human facial expressions: an evolutionary view. San Diego, CA: Academic Press

Niedenthal, P., Krauth-Gruber, S., & Ric, F (2008). Comprendre les émotions : Perspectives cognitives et psycho-sociales. Wavres : Belgique, Éditions Mardaga.

Philippot, P. (2007). Emotion et psychothérapie. Wavre, Belgique : Mardaga.

Philippot, P., Coats E.J., & Feldman, R.S. (2003) (Eds.). Nonverbal behavior in clinical context. New York: Oxford University Press.

Philippot, P., Douilliez, C., Pham, T., Foisy, M.-L. & Kornreich, C. (2005). Facial expression decoding deficits in clinical populations with interpersonal relationship dysfunctions. In R. Riggio, & R.S. Feldman (Eds.), Application of Nonverbal Behavio (pp. 17-37). Lauwrence Erlbaum Associates. 

Russell, J.A. & Fernandez-Dols, J. M. (1997). The psychology of facial expression. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press.


Updated : 25/02/2011 - Pierre Mahau