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Psychol Bull. 1994 Mar;115(2):288-99.

Innate and universal facial expressions: evidence from developmental and cross-cultural research.

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Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark 19716-2577.


The idea of innate and universal facial expressions that have links with human emotions was given the status of scientific hypothesis by Darwin (1872/1965). Substantial evidence, old and new, supports his hypothesis. Much of the evidence is independent of language, but Russell's (1994) criticisms of the hypothesis focus on language-dependent data. In this article, it is argued that Russell's critique was off target in that his arguments relate only to a hypothesis of the universality of semantic attributions and overstated in that he used questionable logic in designing studies to support his claims. It is also argued that Russell misinterpreted the relation between the universality hypothesis and differential emotions theory. Finally, new evidence is presented that supports the Darwinian hypothesis of the innateness and universality of the facial expressions of a limited set of emotions and the efficacy of the most commonly used method of testing it.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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