Facial expressions comprise a considerable amount of nonverbal communication. With our 80 facial muscles we can create more than 7,000 facial expressions. It is one of the most difficult types of nonverbal communication to master the subtle meanings and to be able to catch micro-expressions.
Some facial expressions are similar where ever we are in the world. Human faces communicate happiness, sadness, anger and fear. This documented in Paul Ekman's 1960s studies of facial expression. The sensation of tasting something sour is similarly universal.
The overall appearance of the face offer information about age, sex, race, ethnicity, and even status. Cleanliness, facial hare, use, over use or absence of make up all provide even more information.
Expressions can fall into two groups: intentional, unintentional and within them a subgroup of micro-expressions.
Micro expressions are facial markers displayed as momentary expressions that cause changes in the forehead, eyebrows, eyelids, cheeks, nose, lips, and chin, such as raising the eyebrows, wrinkling the brow, curling the lip. They are often fleeting.Most facial expressions are readily visible, Both types can
positively or negatively reinforce the spoken word and convey cues concerning emotions and attitude.
Next to the words we use, our face is the primary source we use to determine an individuals internal feelings or intent.
There six main types of facial expressions are found in all cultures:
Happiness: round eyes, smiles, raised cheeks
Disgust: wrinkled nose, lowered eyelids and eyebrow, raised upper lip
Fear: area around eyes, open mouth
Anger: lower eyebrow and stare intensely
Surprise: raised eyebrow, wide open eyes, open mouth
Sadness: area around mouth and eyes
Persuasive communicators exhibit more animated facial expressions, more gestures to emphasize their points, and nod their heads more.
This is only a brief over view of the non verbal communication of facial expression.
Go to the Types of Nonverbal Communication main page.