Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

On the form and universality of the contempt expression: A challenge to Ekman and Friesen's claim of discovery

  • Carroll E. Izard
  • O. Maurice Haynes


The claim of Ekman and Friesen (1986, “A New Pan- Cultural Facial Expression of Emotion,”Motivation and Emotion, 10, 159–168) that they have found the first empirical support for the existence of a pancultural expression of contempt is challenged on three grounds. First, the claim that no one else had ever attempted to describe an expression unique to contempt in any culture neglects a tradition of research dating back to Darwin. Second, the data presented by Ekman and Friesen were derived using stimuli that are ambiguous representations of their intended expressions. Finally, there are earlier data for the universality of contempt expressions. Ekman and Friesen's contempt expression may best be viewed as a learned modification of a prototypical expression evolved from the infrahuman snarl.


Social Psychology Facial Expression Empirical Support Early Data Intended Expression 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carroll E. Izard
    • 1
  • O. Maurice Haynes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of DelawareNewark

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