Introduction to the DataFace Site: Facial Expressions, Emotion Expressions, Nonverbal Communication, Physiognomy
DataFace is for people who want to know more about the human face,
whether they are casual observers or professional analysts of the face.
In some respects, everyone knows about faces, because they are the most prominent visual
object in our social environment. People who study the face as part of their career,
however, encounter quite a long list of unanswered questions and mysteries concerning
the face and facial expression. This site highlights some of these questions, and provides answers to some others.
You can find information about the permanent features of the face,
the transient expressions of the face, the people who study the
face and nonverbal communication, and where to find works by these researchers.
You can also find information about the relationship of the face to emotion expressions.
Other specific topics can be found on the Facets page. To find out more about the DataFace site, see the
About DataFace page.
The expression of the face is a basic mode of nonverbal communication among
people. The facial expression of another person is often the basis on which we form
significant impressions of such characteristics as friendliness, trustworthiness,
and status. The overall expression of the face is a composite of signs from many sources,
such as the bony structure, shapes and positions of features, and color and texture of the skin.
Facial expressions created by muscular actions have their roots in the earliest
ancestors of the human species, but these expressions continually evolve and
propagate via both biological and cultural mechanisms. The facial muscles
produce the varying facial expressions that convey information about emotion, mood,
and ideas. Emotion expressions are one primary result of activity by the facial muscles.
This site has information about two scientific tools for studying
facial expressions, FACS and FACSAID.
You can read about the new version of the FACS Manual,
read selections from it, and purchase it on this site.
permanent appearance of the face is formed by the shapes and
placement of the bones of the skull, the cartilage,
and the soft tissues,
including the muscles, fat, and skin, of the face, and the facial features they form.
All the facial expressions are built upon this foundation of bone and flesh.
The consistent appearance of the face underlies our attribution of identity to a person.
These characteristics also contribute to the relatively static expression of the face.
The permanent facial features are called the physiognomy of the face,
especially when they relate to some other personal attribute, such as personality, well-being, or character.
The Visage Project enumerates and classifies facial
features and retrieves the interpretations that authors and scholars have given to these features.
Many controversies, such as the fad of Phrenology and the selection of employees according to facial features,
are related to the topic of physiognomy.
|The Greek drama masks associated facial
appearance with emotion.
||Emotion is a topic frequently raised in discussions of the face.
Since the ancient philosophers, the learned and untutored alike have believed
that the face assumes appearances characteristic of each of the passions
that people experience.
Artists such as Le Brun tried to capture these facial expressions in drawings;
philosophers such as Aristotle and Stewart speculated on their functions and forms,
and biologists such as Darwin speculated on their origins. American psychologists,
however, began in the twentieth century to question these traditional perspectives,
and it became fashionable to reject both the reality of emotions
and any characteristic appearance of the face that might correspond to them.
Even today, a few psychologists continue to promote one or another form of this argument,
despite the substantial evidence to the contrary that has been adduced
in the late 20th century by psychologists, anthropologists, animal biologists, and other scientists.
Today, the topic of emotion and its relation to facial expression has re-emerged into prominence in psychological studies. This site provides a survey of the issues and
pointers to additional information about emotion.
The DataFace Library
contains manuscripts related to the face, emotional expression, nonverbal communication, and facial expressions online at this site,
a multimedia presentation of the effects of facial muscle actions,
a graphic atlas of the skull, and a directory of links to online documents
about the face and to people who study the face.
There are many resources and materials available on the Web
relevant to the face and this section provides some pointers to these other sources.
You can also purchase books and other products from the Bookstore and help keep DataFace online.
Contents of this site are copyright © 2003 by Joseph C. Hager and/or other copyright holders. Images on this page copyright © Corel Corp. Do not copy.