This review evaluates four facial feedback hypotheses, each proposing a certain relation between the face and emotions. It addresses criticisms of the data, considers implications for emotional and social processes, and advises directions for future research. The current data support the following: Facial actions are sensitive to social context, yet correspond to the affective dimension of emotions; matches with specific emotions are unlikely. They modulate ongoing emotions, and initiate them. These two claims have received substantially improved support, in part due to studies controlling for effects of experimental demand and task difficulty. Facial action may influence the occurrence of specific emotions, not simply their valence and intensity. Facial action is not necessary for emotions. There are multiple and nonmutually exclusive plausible mechanisms for facial effects on emotions. Future work must focus on determining the relative contributions of these mechanisms, and the parameters of their effects on emotions.
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I appreciate the helpful comments of Harry Gollob, Greg McHugo, Catherine Reed, Craig Smith, and R. B. Zajonc on earlier drafts of this paper.
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McIntosh, D.N. Facial feedback hypotheses: Evidence, implications, and directions. Motiv Emot 20, 121–147 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02253868
- Social Psychology
- Social Context
- Current Data
- Social Process
- Task Difficulty