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The Expression of Emotion

Updated on May 24, 2014

Express Yourself

The expression of emotion extends across all cultures. Paul Ekman and Carroll Izard insisted that there are a limited number of basic emotions.

“Basic emotions are unlearned and universal; that is, they are found in all cultures, are reflected in the same facial expressions, and emerge in children according to their own biological timetable of development” (Wood, Wood, & Boyd 290).


The Facial-Feedback Hypothesis

A concept by Izard and others labeled as the facial-feedback hypothesis.

This hypothesis states that “muscular movements involved in certain facial expressions produce the corresponding emotions” (Wood, Wood, & Boyd 291).

I think this may be true in certain circumstances. For example, frowning makes one feel angry and smiling usually makes a person feel happy.

However, in some cases a person could be smiling on the outside but are actually hiding their feelings behind a smile. That person could be smiling but actually feels sad.

Display Rules

Display rules are “cultural rules that dictate how emotions should generally be expressed and when and where their expression is appropriate” (Wood, Wood, & Boyd 290).


Breaking the Rules

I have found that I have broken a few display rules myself. Like when I was in line at the bank with my mom; my mom said something that made me laugh.

The people at the bank were rather somber but I guess I laughed too loud because the other people in line gave me a weird look.

I did not give much thought to what happened at the time but from the looks I received from the other people in line I now know that I broke a cultural display rule.


  • Wood, S., Wood, E., Boyd, D. (2002). Mastering the World of Psychology. New Jersey: Pearson.


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