Charles Darwin speculated that in prehistoric times - before communication that used words was common - one's ability to communicate with facial expressions increased an individual's chances of survival. Facial expressions could convey the various important messages of threat, submission, happiness, anger, and so on. Darwin's theory of emotions holds that the basic emotions demonstrated by facial expressions are a universal language among all humans no matter what their cultural setting. Today, however, it is an accepted belief that although cultures share a universal facial language, they differ in how, and how much, they express emotion. For example, as found in experimental studies, Americans grimace when viewing a film of someone's hand being cut off, whereas Japanese viewers tend to hide their emotions, especially in the presence of others. See also EKMAN-FRIESEN THEORY OF EMOTIONS; EMOTIONS, THEORIES/LAWS OF; FACIAL-FEEDBACK HYPOTHESIS; IZARD'S THEORY OF EMOTIONS. REFERENCES
Darwin, C. (1872/1965). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. London: Appleton; Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cogni-
tion, emotion, and motivation. Psy-chologicalReview, 98, 224-253. Ekman, P. (1993). Facial expressions and emotion. American Psychologist, 48, 384-392.
DARWIN'S THEORY OF LAUGHTER/ HUMOR. The English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) regarded laughter, generally, to be the expression of mere joy or happiness, but his theoretical account of the behavior states that the most common cause of laughter is experiencing something incongruous or unaccountable that excites surprise and a sense of superiority in the laugher. Darwin asserted that one may not understand why the sounds expressive of pleasure take the particular reiterated form of laughter, but it may readily be assumed that they should be as different as possible from the screams that express fear or distress. In Darwin's view, the physiological expression of distress takes the form of cries in which the body's expirations are continuous and prolonged (and the inspirations are short and interrupted), whereas pleasure is expressed by sound production in which short and broken expirations, together with prolonged inspirations, are observed. Concerning the specific physical features and shape of the mouth in laughter, Darwin notes that it must not be opened to its utmost extent and the retractions of the corners of the mouth are due to the necessity for a large orifice through which an adequate amount of sound may be issued; thus, because the mouth cannot be opened sufficiently in the vertical plane, the retraction of the corners of the mouth occurs. According to Darwin's theory of laughter, a physical/physiological continuum exists in laughter ranging from the most excessive laughter, through moderate laughter, to the broad smile, and finally to the faintest smile, where all these series of movements are expressions of pleasure to differing degrees. Darwin observes that the smile is the first stage in the development of the laugh, and suggests the following origins: the loud reiterated sounds of a certain type are the original expression of pleasure in which the utterance of these sound involves the retraction of the corners of the mouth; this smile reaction may, thus, have become a conditioned expression of pleasure when this was not sufficient to excite the more violent reaction of laughter. In the animal realm, on the phylogenetic scale, vocal laughter-like sounds are used either as a call or a signal by one sex for the other; and they may be employed, also, as the means for a joyful meeting between parents and their offspring or between the affiliated members of the same social unit. Darwin's "instinct-physiological" theory of humor assumes that the reaction of laughter is universal and widespread throughout the world as an expression of satisfaction, although other expressions of this same feeling exist as well. Darwin maintains, also, that laughter may be used in a forced way to conceal other emotions such as derision, contempt, shyness, shame, or anger (e.g., in derision, a real or feigned smile or laugh is blended with an expression of contempt whose function is to show the offending person that he or she evokes only amusement). Thus, Darwin's theory of laughter/humor contains several elements, including incongruity, superiority, physical/physiological features, instinctive behavior, and emotional or psychological behavior. See also DESCARTES' THEORY OF HUMOR/ LAUGHTER; HUMOR, THEORIES OF; MCDOU-GALL'S THEORY OF HUMOR. REFERENCE
Darwin, C. (1872/1965). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. London: Murray.
DEATH/DYING. See LIFE, THEORIES OF.
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