Facial Expression

I think the most appropriate expressions to use for the Chernoff faces would be happiness, sadness, surprise and fear. Anger and disgust are, I am sure, frequently experienced by stock market players but it would be reading too much into the data to use them. I intend to use happiness and sadness for representing rises and falls, with surprise or fear added in if the market is volatile. The next task is to investigate the physiology of these expressions and map this onto the facial glyphs.

Pan-Cultural Elements in the Facial Display of Emotions

The original paper published in Science, 1969, which caused all the fuss with Margaret Mead (who, along with most researchers in the field, believed that facial expressions were culturally determined).

Facial Expressions applet …


Facial Expression Analysis

There's not a lot on this site but there are some curious little videos of how the face moves into different facial expressions.


The Naked Face

Gladwell, M: The Naked Face (pdf), New Yorker Annals of Psychology, August 5, 2002 - Article about the work of Paul Ekman, inventor of the Facial Action Coding System, and about rare individuals who are naturally extremely skilled in reading facial expressions

What's in a Face?

"Do facial expressions reflect inner feelings? Or are they social devices for influencing others?"

article by Beth Azar, Monitor on Psychology, vol.31, No.1, January 2000

The New Face of Emoticons

"Warping photos could help text-based communications become more expressive… Computer scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a way to make e-mails, instant messaging, and texts just a bit more personalized. Their software will allow people to use images of their own faces instead of the more traditional emoticons to communicate their mood. By automatically warping their facial features, people can use a photo to depict any one of a range of different animated emotional expressions, such as happy, sad, angry, or surprised."


A Look Tells All

A person's face will always reveal his true feelings—if, like Paul Ekman, you are quick enough to recognize microexpressions

Siri Schubert, A Look Tells All, Scientific American, October 2006.

Facial Action Coding System

Paul Ekman started with the musculature of the human face and painstakingly documented the expressive results of each muscle contraction. He then went through the 10,000+ possible combinations of muscle actions and documented the 3000 or so which had meaning. The result is a huge, detailed manual which is widely used in research for classifying human expressions.

in the guide, Ekman outlines some of the questions he is addressing:

  • which movements signal emotion?
  • Do the same facial movements occur in the same social contexts in different cultures?
  • Are certain facial actions inhibited in certain social settings?
  • Which facial movements punctuate conversation, etc.?

and states his aim:

to develop a comprehensive system which could distinguish all possible visually distinguishable facial movements

When I first heard about this, I thought it was a strange thing to want to do, and so was quite interested to find the interview (below), in which Paul Ekman comes across as a perfectly normal, warm human being.

Free demo of part of the manual

Paul Ekman Interview

Differences in facial expressions of four universal emotions
Christian G. Kohlera, Travis Turnerb, Neal M. Stolara, Warren B. Bilkerc, Colleen M. Brensingerc, Raquel E. Gura and Ruben C. Gura

This is a paper I haven't been able to fully access, but the abstract is very useful:


The facial action coding system (FACS) was used to examine recognition rates in 105 healthy young men and women who viewed 128 facial expressions of posed and evoked happy, sad, angry and fearful emotions in color photographs balanced for gender and ethnicity of poser. Categorical analyses determined the specificity of individual action units for each emotion. Relationships between recognition rates for different emotions and action units were evaluated using a logistic regression model. Each emotion could be identified by a group of action units, characteristic to the emotion and distinct from other emotions. Characteristic happy expressions comprised raised inner eyebrows, tightened lower eyelid, raised cheeks, upper lip raised and lip corners turned upward. Recognition of happy faces was associated with cheek raise, lid tightening and outer brow raise. Characteristic sad expressions comprised furrowed eyebrow, opened mouth with upper lip being raised, lip corners stretched and turned down, and chin pulled up. Only brow lower and chin raise were associated with sad recognition. Characteristic anger expressions comprised lowered eyebrows, eyes wide open with tightened lower lid, lips exposing teeth and stretched lip corners. Recognition of angry faces was associated with lowered eyebrows, upper lid raise and lower lip depression. Characteristic fear expressions comprised eyes wide open, furrowed and raised eyebrows and stretched mouth. Recognition of fearful faces was most highly associated with upper lip raise and nostril dilation, although both occurred infrequently, and with inner brow raise and widened eyes. Comparisons are made with previous studies that used different facial stimuli.

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