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Alan J. Fridlund & James A. Russell

In: The SAGE Handbook of Nonverbal Communication

Chapter 16: The Functions of Facial Expressions: What's in a Face?

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The Functions of Facial Expressions: What's in a Face?
The functions of facial expressions: What's in a face?

Humans are quintessentially social beings, and our faces occupy a central role in our social interactions. How and why they do so is the focus of this chapter. This chapter is not intended to be comprehensive, an inevitable choice given the explosion of research on facial expressions that has occurred in the past 20 years. Instead, we focus on one central contention: that the traditional focus on emotion as the way to explain our facial expressions is erroneous. We argue instead that facial cues are better seen as “social tools” that modify the trajectory of our social interactions. We begin with a brief look at how faces have ...

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