PSYB01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Facial Action Coding System, Paul Ekman, Theoretical Definition

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Published on 28 Nov 2011
Research Methods in Psychology
Chapter 2 - The Foundations of Psychological Research
-the scientific method can be applied to the questions of what
comes first, the simple act of smiling or the positive emotional
-there are two broad research approaches that researchers use:
experimental and non-experimental designs
-Non-experimental designs ex. If you wanted to examine the
relationship of smiling and positive mood, you might have
participants watch a comedy film, record the number of times
each participants smiled and then have them complete a
questionnaire on their mood
oBUT you cant conclude that there is a causal relationship
between smiling and positive mood
-experimental study can be used when researcher wants to test
cause and effect
oable to exercise control over the variable or variables that
are assumed to be the causal agent(s) producing the
predicted effect
The Goals of Science
-Paul Ekman found that most social scientists understood
emotional expression in the face to be culturally determined by a
set of learned social conventions
-Charles Darwin – The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals –
argues that all mammals communicate their emotions through
facial expressions
oEkman challenged the idea that rules are learned social and
cultural convention
-went around the world with photographs of men and women
posing various distinctive faces
-everywhere he went, people agreed on what the expressions
owent to both developed countries as well as remote villages
in the jungles – both had no problem identifying various
facial expressions
-breakthrough: facial expressions of emotions were not socially
learned rather are the universal products of evolution
-the research established the human face as an exquisite and
efficient organ of emotional communication
-scientific understanding entails two distinct but related processes
description and explanation
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-a conceptual definition – provides the meaning, often rather broad
in scope, of an abstract term such as intelligence , anxiety or
oDemarcates a semantic or linguistic meaning of a
psychological term, that is, usage in words
-ex. Intelligence as a concept may be defined as the general ability
that enables an individual to comprehend the world and to deal
effectively with its challenges
-operational definitions follow from conceptual defn – indicates
how a concept is coded, measured and quantified
-for Ekman’s work – the Facial Action Coding System provides
the operational definition of various facial expressions of emotions
othe facial muscle coding system defines specific
combo’s of facial muscle movements that are universally and
discretely generated when certain emotions are elicited
ofacial muscle contractions are predictive of a particular
emotion – we see that an important aspect of a scientific description
and explanation is establishing predictive relationships between two
events or occurrences
-he was able to idenfy seven discrete emotional expressions
that humans in different cultures develop similar capacity to
recognize: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, disgust, and
-includes both prediction as well as establishing cause and
-Causality requires three types of evidence
oTemporal precedence – the cause preceded the effect
ex. Smoking occurred before lung cancer
oCo variation of the cause and effect – when the cause is
present, the effect occurs, and when the cause is absent, the effect
does not occur
Ex. People that smoke develop lung cancer and
those that don’t, do not contract lung cancer
oAlternative Explanations – nothing other then the causal
variable could be responsible for the observed effect: no other
plausible explanation for the relationship
Ex. In the smoking example, a third variable, such
as social class, could explain the relationship of smoking and lung
-it is impossible in human studies to control for all extraneous,
confounding or third variables that could account for the observed
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Practical Knowledge
-studies are categorized as either basic research or applied
-Basic – addresses fundamental questions about the nature of
abstract psychological processes and ideas such as emotions,
intelligence, reasoning and social behaviour
-Applied – addresses important questions that are thought to
be of immediate relevance in solving problems
oEx. What is the most effective teaching method for
learning math?
-major interest of study in applied research – program
evaluation - studies the effects on behaviour of large scale policy
changes and as well social reforms and innovations occurring in
gov’t, schools, courts, prisons, businesses, health care, housing
-both are essential and of equal importance – the distinctions
often blur and both are viewed as falling along a continuum
Sources of Research Ideas
Starting with Observation
-you have no formal experience in research but you are
curious about the human face – done by simple observation
-ex. Charles Darwin generated theory of evolution by natural
selections exclusively on the basis of simple observation
-observations act to restrict our attention, but sometimes we
might stumble upon an important discovery that may not have been
primary interest to us
owhen we are trying to generate ideas, narrowing the
focus of observation may be counterproductive to our creativity and
-open mind increases the chances of accidently discovering
something fortunate known as the serendipidity effect keep
pour minds and hearts open for the unexpected, unlikely and
Starting with Theory
-Charles Darwin was the first to raise the question of whether
physiological changes may lead to, if not very well be the cause of
an emotion as opposed to being just the consequence of that
-emotions are feelings that come about as a results of changes
such as perspiration, rapid heartbeat, muscular tension, and
dryness of the mouth
oknown as the James-Lang Theory
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