Maybe it was a sweet-as-pie, pretty-please smile meant to talk a friend into sharing her dessert, or a serious stink eye intended to shake a moody kid out of his tantrum. Whatever the circumstance, we’ve all used our faces to get our way.
As it turns out, we pretty much always do.
Our facial expressions stem primarily from intentions — not from feelings — says Alan J. Fridlund, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences at UC Santa Barbara who conducts innovative research on the meaning of facial expressions. His new paper, “Facial Displays Are Tools for Social Influence,” co-authored with British researcher Carlos Crivelli, makes exactly that case.