Decoding Facial Expressions in Situations  Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

The other major factors were the personal space between each other and the touching behaviors of these couples. To estimate the personal space between the partners, distance in their sitting positions was used while the holding on of hands and hugging was the determining factor of a couple's touching behavior. To test the eye contact of these couples, the amount of time they spent looking at each other while talking was used.

Results of the Observations:

Out of the twenty married couples examined, twelve of them spent a considerable amount of time looking at each other even in cases where there was less talking between them. The couples would constantly smile at each other and seem to enjoy their time in the restaurant. Additionally, the couples spent their time in the restaurant holding each others' arms with some of them spending all their time in the restaurant on each others arms. While constantly looking and smiling at each other, some of the twelve couples were overheard affirming their feelings toward each other.

On the other hand, five of the twenty couples only spent a few minutes looking at each other and then shifted their focus to the other things such as the television in the restaurant or their mobile phones. These couples didn't spend a lot of time in the restaurant with their faces expressing emotions of fatigue and uncertainty. Their partners also shifted their focus to other things as soon as they noticed these facial expressions of fatigue or uncertainty in their partners. They also stopped holding each others' arms as soon as the facial expressions changed with some of them looking to be in deep thought.

The rest of the married couples were constantly oscillating from maintaining eye contact and focusing on other things. This was because of the changing facial expressions of their partners from time to time as they would smile, raise and narrow their eyes and even frown. For these couples, they rarely held each others' arms while in the restaurant as compared to the other couples that have been discussed earlier.

As a result, for married couples out on a date, the facial expression of smiling could mean that the couple is enjoying their time and is satisfied with everything. This facial expression enables them to continue gazing at each other while enjoying their time out. On the contrary, the other facial expression of raising and narrowing of eyes at a certain point expressed the emotions of fatigue and uncertainty. As soon as their partners expressed these facial expressions, the other partners would sense that their partners are no longer enjoying their time in the restaurant and would probably be thinking of other things. This could be the reason why the couple would shift their focus to other things and leave the restaurant earlier.

Finally, the other facial expression of frowning was an evidence of a partner's displeasure at either something within the restaurant or an utterance from their partner. As soon as they would come to terms with this thing, they would certainly change their facial expression. Consequently, it can be concluded that for married couples on a date, the facial expressions of smiling, raising and narrowing of eyes and frowning could be an expression of the emotion of happiness, fatigue or uncertainty and displeasure respectively. Nonetheless, raising and narrowing of eyes could be a facial expression that reveals an emotion shock or disbelief for married couples on a date.

It's important to note that these results only display the issues concerning the visible facial expressions of married couples while on a date. However, the results and behaviors are different for unmarried couples who were out on a date at the same restaurant. One of the most significant differences between these two groups of couples is that the all the unmarried couples who visited the restaurant spent their whole time on each other's arms or were constantly holding their hands. As a result, this fact basically confirms the hypothesis that married couples touch less than unmarried couples since the touching behavior of married couples is greatly influenced by the facial expressions of their partners as compared to the unmarried couples.

Discussion:

These findings form an important aspect in marital relationships since together with body language and conversation tone, facial expressions communicate more than actual words. Understanding these facial expressions between married couples helps in guaranteeing marital satisfaction given that 90% of interpersonal communication involves non-verbal signals (Bailey, 2009). By understanding these facial expressions, married couples will be able to gather a lot of information from the non-verbal communication signals of their partners while on a date. The information will help in shaping the marriage because couples tend to share a lot while out on a date and this sharing of information includes the non-verbal signals to a greater extent.

The findings also reveals that a couple's touching behavior is dependent on the emotions displayed by their facial expressions. When a partner expresses emotions of happiness, they are likely to continue holding their partners as compared to when other emotions are expressed. However, the observation method used in this research could not fully identify whether some of the couples without a wedding ring were actually married or not. This research method basically adopts the assumption that couples without a wedding are unmarried. This assumption may be wrong since not all the married couples have a wedding ring on their fingers. For future research, other research methods such as a questionnaire could be used. Unlike this research method, other research methods have a little margin of error.

References:

Bailey, S.J. (2009, November). Couple Relationships: Communication and Conflict Resolution.

Retrieved from Montana State University website: http://msuextension.org/publications/HomeHealthandFamily/MT200917HR.pdf

Enochson, J.A. & Wiseman, R.L. (1999, November). Married Couples' Perceptions of Touch

Behavior and Marital Satisfaction. Retrieved from Speech Communication department -- California State University website: http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/rwiseman/MaritalTouchPaper.htm

Fox, J. (2004, March). Factors of Emotion Recognition in Faces: Three Perspectives. Journal of Young Investigators, 10(3). Retrieved from http://www.jyi.org/volumes/volume10/issue3/articles/fox2.html

Schyns, P. G, Petro, L. S & Smith, M.L. (2009). Transmission of Facial Expressions of Emotion

Co-Evolved with Their Efficient Decoding in the Brain: Behavioral and Brain Evidence. PLoS One Journal 4(5): e5625. Retrieved from http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005625

University of Alberta (2007, April 5). Culture Is Key To Interpreting Facial Emotions.

ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070404162321.htm

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