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Darwin's experiment into emotional expressions being re-run

The Darwin Correspondence Project is re-running an experiment whereby people are asked for their reaction to a series of photos depicting a man striking various poses.

10 November 2011

An experiment carried out by Charles Darwin into whether or not humans have an innate and universal set of emotional expressions is being re-run.

The Darwin Correspondence Project is recreating the trial to see if it will add anything to the field of psychology, BBC News reports.

During a series of dinner parties in 1868, Darwin recorded how guests responded to a series of pictures that showed a man striking various poses.

After this, a questionnaire was sent around the world in an attempt to canvas as broad an opinion as possible.

The photos that showed the man experiencing fear, surprise, happiness, sadness and anger all provoked the same reaction in people.

This could point to the fact that individuals respond to common emotions in the same manner, which may be useful for individuals involved in negotiations.

Peter Robinson, head of Computer Laboratory, which uses web tools to study people's expressions, called the work "seminal" for its time.

Posted by Ken Hayes

Source: BBC News, November 9th

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