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Facial display when alone: An experiment which contrasts the views of Paul Ekman and Alan Fridlund

By Michael Anthony Chen


In order to test the merits of Paul Ekman's neurocultural\ud (1975) versus Alan Fridlund's Behavioral-Ecology (in press) views of facial expression, an \ud experiment was done to test the affects of what Fridlund calls "imaginary interactants" on \ud subjects' responses (smiling and laughing) to humorous stimuli (clips from well known comedies \ud film) which the subjects watched while alone.\ud 50 male subjects were randomly assigned to the two experimental groups: anticipated interaction \ud (told that they would be talking about the tape with someone else) and completely alone. Neither \ud group knew that watching the clips was the actual experimental task. There was also a \ud post-watching interview which was designed to determine the amount of thought about "potential \ud imagined interactants" which took place in the minds of the subjects. The results showed no \ud difference between the two groups' smiling and laughing. The data were then divided on the basis \ud of subjects' responses to certain interview questions. ANOVAs were run based on the interview data \ud and revealed that subjects laugh with high intensity most when they are not thinking about \ud particular other people (p<.Ol). This-finding is in direct conflict with Fridlund's theory. It was \ud also\ud discovered, however, that when people wished for others' presence\ud they laughed and smiled more (p<.Ol). The results are discussed\ud in detail, and seem to support adoption of an Ekmanian\ud perspective, but the author calls for more work in the area

Year: 1989
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