Monday, October 18, 2010

Facial expression

Did you ever wonder at the difference between disgust and contempt?

I didn't. I plonked them in the 'I'd prefer it if you didn't look at me that way' basket and left it at that.

A look of disgust begins with a bad taste in your mouth (dis-gust = bad taste), and a look of contempt begins with a bad smell in your nose. Go on, make the faces to try it. I know you want to. Interestingly, in studies of facial expression, left wing politicians favour disgust and right wing politicians favour contempt.

In fact, perhaps that illustrates the difference ;)

Perhaps that's a bit flippant, but there is more superiority in contempt and gut reaction in disgust.

The funny thing about this train of thought is that it began with reflecting on my day. The small ward I spend about half my time in was overcome by a patient with fairly significant flatulence. And facial expressions were eloquent today. Barely a word was said, but lots of opinions were shared (both of contempt and disgust).

It reminded me, again, of how the intricacy of communication and the many facets to trying to understand a person. Something I'd like to get better at - understanding people.

I would like to do this training in facial expression recognition, written by Paul Ekman, a psychology professor whose research is in facial expression and emotion.

No comments: