Anger or Disgust? Blended Emotions

Anger of Disgust? Click to enlarge

When I first started examining faces, learning micro expressions and trying to determine what emotions were present in an image or video, another that I got stuck with was telling the difference between anger and disgust.

The main ingredients of anger include the lowering of the eyebrows (in FACS terms, AU4), and the raising (AU5) and tightening (AU7) of the eyelids. This can also include any number of other factors such as clenching the jaw, gritting teeth or tightening the lips for example.

Disgust is recognised most by the wrinkling of the nose (AU9) or the raising of the upper lip (AU10). It’s also common to see the raising of the chin boss (AU17) in disgust, and perhaps even the lower lip dropping (AU16).  As with the anger examples above, this excludes all the possible combinations of the mouth opening.

Another interesting one: Anger or Disgust? Or a blend? Click to enlarge.

This is where we come to an interesting question – what if there are signs of both anger and disgust in an image? It’s easier to ascertain an expression from a video clip as you can actually see things in context, identify the muscles moving in what order, and get the whole picture. Well, my simple answer is this; there certainly can be blended emotions. Sometimes after people have gone through the online micro expressions training there is a mindset of black and white, having the certainty that there must be only one answer – as that’s what the training says. However in reality this is not the case. Masking smiles for example – what are they masking / hiding? Someone is disgusted with a scene yet lets on a social smile, they are sad yet covering up to minimalise questions, or someone who is really angry yet trying to shake it off for the benefit of the people around them… Blended emotions are everywhere.

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About Stu Dunn

Becoming proficient with non verbal communication and teaching what I’ve learnt over the years has become an absolute passion of mine; starting with beginning the SDL Behavioural Science Facebook Page, then set up my first online course in 2011, and my first book on the subject True Lies, A Guide to Reading Faces, Interpreting Body Language & Detecting Deception in the Real World was published in 2013. During this time I’ve helped thousands of people around the world become proficient in reading body language, micro expressions and detecting deception – and I’d love to help you too.
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2 Responses to Anger or Disgust? Blended Emotions

  1. Pingback: Anger or Disgust? Blended Emotions « Rage at Work

  2. So the training posits there is just one emotion (at a time) and so, no blends? I would suspect there is some truth to that, as I am hoping the researchers had a reason to say that. Has this opinion changed to (academically acceptably) incorporate blends?
    (I know, I have a lot of reading to do — meanwhile, it’s a question.)

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