Fig. 1 - Sad face expressed through
subtle facial cues.
Fig. 2 - Sad face bordering on grief.
It doesn't take much to look sad. Of all the emotions, sadness can be portrayed with the least facial movement. I found a particularly good photograph of slight sadness in a newspaper recently, and I decided it would make a great subject for this month's blog.
The face of the young woman in Fig. 1 is obviously sad, but the marks of sadness on her face are slight enough to be reckoned in movements of a fraction of an inch. She tugs at our heartstrings, but with so little actually going on!
The woman in Fig. 2, by contrast, has a face that is much more contorted in sorrow - the eyes, forehead, cheeks, mouth, and chin are all dramatically distorted and reconfigured; it's the way someone looks just short of weeping. It is hardly surprising, when comparing the emotional intensity of the two women, that 100% of test-takers agreed that the woman in Fig. 2 appears more sad than Fig. 1. 100% results are not that uncommon with really strong expressions.
Occasionally, however, subtle expressions can also receive unanimous results from test takers. Case in point, the unhappy woman in Fig. 1 tested as clearly and unambiguously as her near-crying counterpart, with 50 out of 50 random participants agreeing she was sad.
The Subtle Signs of SADNESS
So many faces. So many ways to express emotions. Faigin examines facial expressions in movie stills, cartoons, fine art, illustrations and photographs and shares his insightful analyses in his monthly blog.
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