Facial Expressions of Emotions


The universality of emotional facial expressions is drawn from psychological, biological, and social perspectives. Emotions assume a critical role in both psychiatric treatment and general experiences among human beings. Despite this enormous significance in illness and health, no studies have achieved a nexus about the constructs of emotional encounters. The primary emotions are inner states regulated by neuromodulators, which are externally exhibited as instincts. These emotions are sadness, anger, happiness, and fear. This essay aims to discuss the concept of basic emotions, laying a great emphasis on emotions and early development and how blind people express their emotions.

The universality of Basic Emotions

Between birth and adulthood, emotions are regarded as crucial common points of reference for meaningful social relationships. This hypothetical postulation maintains that universal expressions emanate from evolutionary history (Pacella et al., 2017). Basic emotions are therefore said to be universal because they are associated with the most fundamental needs of the body and its instinctual needs. The four types of basic emotions are sadness, anger, happiness, and fear linked to punishment, reward, and stress.

How Innate are Basic Emotions

In their theory of universality, early scientists maintained that emotions are innate, scientifically propelled reactions to specific opportunities and challenges modeled by evolution to enable the survival of human beings. Notwithstanding the environment or culture, a person in danger expresses fear that allows them to run away (Pacella et al., 2017). Furthermore, studies show that parents feel love when they continuously look at their infants, which motivates them to offer unconditional care. Interestingly, a corresponding emotional countenance has been observed among other primates who are not human. The study postulates that emotional facial expressions are innate and not acquired through cultural learning.

Learning Basic Emotions

Primary emotions are not learned but are rather intertwined into the brain and the body. These emotions make the body respond in given ways and also generate urges once the emotions surface. Human beings only learn secondary emotions from their culture and families. Therefore, emotions are underpinned by expressive behaviors such as language, voice, face, touch, posture, and other peripheral and neural physiological activities.

Emotions and Early Development

Through emotional and social development in the early years, children expand their ability to encounter, express, and manage various emotions. Results in neuroscience show that between zero and years is a crucial opportunity for children to learn as they develop emotional competence and self-regulation (Housman, 2017). Initially, children only communicate via emotions such as crying, but they begin to acknowledge feelings with time. Furthermore, their feelings are, to a great extent, determined by their thoughts. Hence, children become more conscious of their feelings and also understand other people’s feelings. Various studies underpin the genetic and biological origin of emotional facial expressions (Valente, 2018). For instance, arousing emotions in both sighted and blind people, similar facial expressions are generated in the two groups (Valente, 2018). This conclusion demonstrates that facial configurations are intrinsically coded among human beings and are a segment of the broader response system entailing physiological and cognitive processes. The idea that the same muscles are used to convey emotions could prove that emotions are innate but universal and do not entirely rely on social learning through imitation.

During the Paralympics and Olympics, a study was conducted to investigate whether blind people and sighted people produce similar emotions when subject to different situations of anger and joy. Photos were therefore taken, and conclusions were drawn on the emotional facial expressions produced by the athletes (Valente, 2018). The photos demonstrated that both sighted and blind athletes generated similar facial expressions of surprise, anger, sadness, and joy. However, blind athletes who lost the match and did not get any medal appeared to hide their genuine emotions, indicating how likely it is to fake emotions when one cannot see the audience.

Such findings may provide new techniques for comprehending the processes human beings learn to control their feelings, implying that visual monitoring may not be required for learning. These are finding further elicit questions about what techniques regulate humans, whether sighted or blind, to control their emotions (Pacella et al., 2017). Blind people can, therefore, voluntarily reproduce similar expression patterns as people who can see. The variation between the two is in the control and force of the emotions: blind people appear to obey less the display rules associated with visual responses to establish in which circumstances emotions can be displayed (Arioli et al., 2021). Display rules are determined by social and cultural norms, which influence facial expressions in various ways.


As seen in the discussion, emotions assume a critical role in human lives. The four basic emotions are sadness, anger, happiness, and fear, associated with punishment, reward, and stress. According to the discussion, basic emotions are not learned but are intertwined into the brain and the body. During early development, children become more cognizant of their feelings. Furthermore, those facial configurations are intrinsically coded among human beings.


Arioli, M., Ricciardi, E., &Cattaneo, Z. (2021). Social cognition in the blind brain: A coordinate‐based meta‐analysis. Human Brain Mapping, 42(5), 1243-1256. Web.

Housman, D. K. (2017). The importance of emotional competence and self-regulation from birth: A case for the evidence-based emotional, cognitive, social early learning approach. International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, 11(1), 1-19. Web.

Pacella, D., Ponticorvo, M., Gigliotta, O., &Miglino, O. (2017). Basic emotions and adaptation. A computational and evolutionary model. PLoS One, 12(11), e0187463. Web.

Valente, D., Theurel, A., &Gentaz, E. (2018). The role of visual experience in the production of emotional facial expressions by blind people: A review. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25(2), 483-497. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Facial Expressions of Emotions." September 11, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/facial-expressions-of-emotions/.