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藏在人类表情背后复杂信号:相由心生?错!

更新时间:2018-5-27 12:29:42 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why our facial expressions don't reflect our feelings
藏在人类表情背后复杂信号:相由心生?错!

While conducting research on emotions and facial expressions in Papua New Guinea in 2015, psychologist Carlos Crivelli discovered something startling.

心理学家克里韦利(Carlos Crivelli)2015年在巴布亚新几内亚做情绪和面部表情的研究时,得出令人吃惊的结果。

He showed Trobriand Islanders photographs of the standard Western face of fear – wide-eyed, mouth agape – and asked them to identify what they saw. The Trobrianders didn’t see a frightened face. Instead, they saw an indication of threat and aggression.

他给特罗布里恩岛的居民看西方人睁大眼睛、张大嘴巴的照片,也就是标准的恐惧表情,然后问他们的看法。岛民们并不认为那是害怕的表情。相反,他们看到了威胁和攻击的迹象。

In other words, what we think of as a universal expression of fear isn’t universal at all. But if Trobrianders have a different interpretation of facial expressions, what does that mean?

换句话说,我们认为恐惧的普遍表情,其实并不具有普遍性。但如果特罗布里恩岛的岛民对面部表情有着不同的解读,那又说明什么呢?

One emerging – and increasingly supported – theory is that facial expressions don’t reflect our feelings. Instead of reliable readouts of our emotional states, they show our intentions and social goals.

一个越来越受到支持的新理论是,面部表情并不能反映我们的情绪。它们不能准确表达我们的情绪状态,而显示的是我们的意图和社交目的。

The face acts “like a road sign to affect the traffic that’s going past it,” says Alan Fridlund, a psychology professor at University of California Santa Barbara who co-authored a recent study with De Montfort University's Crivelli arguing for a more utilitarian view of facial expressions. “Our faces are ways we direct the trajectory of a social interaction.”

加州大学圣巴巴拉分校(University of California Santa Barbara)的心理学教授弗里德隆德(Alan Fridlund)说,面部“就像一个路标,影响着通过这个路标的交通状况”。他与克里韦利最近共同撰写了一篇研究报告,力主面部表情更具实用性的观点。“面部是我们指导社交互动轨迹的方式。”

That’s not to say that we actively try to manipulate others with our facial expressions (though every once in a while, we might). Our smiles and frowns may well be instinctive.

这并不是说,我们积极地利用面部表情来操纵他人(尽管我们偶尔的确会这么做)。我们的微笑和皱眉也可能是本能。

But our expressions are less a mirror of what’s going on inside than a signal we’re sending about what we want to happen next. Your best ‘disgusted’ face, for example, might show that you’re not happy with the way the conversation is going – and that you want it to take a different tack.

但表情并非内心活动的镜子,而是我们发出的信号,表明我们希望接下来发生的事情。比如,你展示出最“厌恶”的表情可能显示你对正在进行的谈话不满意,并希望能做出调整。

“It’s the only reason that makes sense for facial expression to have evolved,” says Bridget Waller, an evolutionary psychology professor at the University of Portsmouth. Faces, she says, are always “giving some sort of important and useful information both to the sender… and to the receiver.”

朴茨茅斯大学(University of Portsmouth)进化心理学教授沃勒(Bridget Waller)说:“这是面部表情之所以进化唯一合乎情理的原因。”她说,面孔总是“向发送者和接收者提供某种重要的和有用的信息”。

While it may seem sensible, this theory has been a long time coming.

这个理论或许听来合乎情理,但建立这个理论却用了很长时间。

The idea that emotions are fundamental, instinctive and expressed in our faces is deeply ingrained in Western culture. Ancient Greeks placed the ‘passions’ in opposition to reason; in the 17th Century, philosopher René Descartes laid out six basic passions which could interfere with rational thought. Artist Charles Le Brun then connected them to the face, laying out “the anatomically correct and appropriately nuanced facial configuration for each Cartesian passion”, write Crivelli and Fridlund.

在西方文化中,情感代表基本和本能的情绪而反应在脸上,这种观念根深蒂固。古希腊人将“激情”与理性对立;在17世纪,哲学家笛卡尔提出了六种可能干扰理性思考的强烈情感。艺术家勒·布朗(Charles Le Brun)后来把这些情感跟脸部联系到一起,“对每一种笛卡尔激情”做出了“解剖学上正确而适宜的,且细致入微的面部配置”,克里韦利和弗里德隆德写道。

In the 1960s and ’70s, scientific research also began to back up the idea that a few basic emotions could be universally understood through facial expressions.

20世纪六、七十年代,科学研究也开始支持一些基本情绪可以通过面部表情而得以普遍理解的观点。

In different countries around the world, researcher Paul Ekman asked subjects to match photos of facial expressions with emotions or emotional scenarios. His studies seemed to indicate that some expressions, and their corresponding feelings, were recognised by people of all cultures. (These “basic emotions” were happiness, surprise, disgust, fear, sadness, and anger.) Today, the legacy of Ekman’s theories is everywhere: from the “Feelings” posters you see in preschools with their cartoons of smiles and frowns to a US government programme designed to identify potential terrorists.

在世界各地的不同国家,研究人员埃克曼(Paul Ekman)要求受试者将面部表情的照片与情绪或情绪场景相匹配。他的研究似乎表明,有一些表情和它们对应的情绪在所有文化中都是一样的(这些“基本情绪”是高兴、惊讶、厌恶、恐惧、悲伤和愤怒)。今天,埃克曼理论的研究遗产无所不在:从你在幼儿园看到的卡通角色或笑或皱眉的“情绪”海报,到美国政府为识别潜在恐怖分子而制定的一个计划。

But this viewpoint has always had detractors. Margaret Mead, who believed that our expressions were learned behaviours, was among them. So was Fridlund, who early in his career collaborated on two articles with Ekman before becoming disillusioned with Ekman’s ideas.

但这个观点一直不乏批评者。其中就包括美国人类学家米德(Margaret Mead),她认为我们的表情是后天习得的行为。弗里德隆德也这样认为。在他的职业生涯早期,曾与埃克曼合作过两篇文章,后来才与埃克曼的观点分道扬镳。

Face-off

交锋

New research is challenging two of the main pillars of basic emotion theory. First is the idea that some emotions are universally shared and recognised. Second is the belief that facial expressions are reliable reflectors of those emotions. “They are two different points which have really been confounded by scholars,” says Maria Gendron, a psychology researcher at Northeastern University soon joining the Yale University faculty.

新研究对基本情感理论的两大支柱发起了挑战。第一个支柱是,人类共同拥有一些情绪,并且能够加以识别。第二个支柱是,相信面部表情是这些情绪的可靠反应。东北大学(Northeastern University)研究心理学的根德隆(Maria Gendron)说,“这是两个不同的观点,但真的被学者弄混了。”

That new research includes recent work by Crivelli. He has spent months immersed with the Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea as well as the Mwani of Mozambique. With both indigenous groups, he found that study participants did not attribute emotions to faces in the same way Westerners do.

新研究包括克里韦利最近的研究成果。他花了数月时间,与巴布亚新几内亚的特罗布里恩岛民和莫桑比克的姆瓦尼人(Mwani)生活在一起。他发现,这两个原住民群体的研究参与者并不像西方人那样,将情绪与表情联系起来。

It was not just the face of fear, either. Shown a smiling face, only a small percentage of Trobrianders declared that the face was happy. About half of those who were asked to describe it in their own words called it “laughing”: a word that deals with action, not feeling. And several described the smiling face as displaying the “magic of attraction”, a uniquely Trobriand-identified emotion that Crivelli describes as “a raptured enchantment”, or a feeling of being positively impacted by magic.

他们不仅仅认不出脸上的恐惧表情。只有很小比例的特罗布里恩岛居民认为微笑的表情表明人很高兴。在被要求用自己的话来形容这个恐惧表情时,大约有一半的人会称之为“笑”:一个跟动作有关的词,而不是感受。有几个人形容笑脸是展示“神奇的吸引力”,这是一种独特的、只有特罗布里恩岛居民可以识别的情绪,克里韦利称之为“一种令人狂喜的魔法”,或者是一种受到魔法积极影响的感觉。

Gendron found similar reactions while studying other indigenous groups – the Himba people in Namibia and the Hadza in Tanzania. Both groups, when asked to describe a facial expression in their own words, tended not to describe an expression as “happy” or “sad”. Instead, they would focus on the actions of the people in the photographs (describing them as laughing or crying) or extrapolate reasons for the expressions (“Someone has died”).

在研究纳米比亚的欣巴人(Himba)和坦桑尼亚的哈扎人(Hadza)这些原住民群体时,根德隆发现了类似的反应。在要求这些原住民用自己的语言描述一个面部表情时,他们往往不会将其形容为“高兴”或者“悲伤”。相反,他们会把重点放在照片中人物的动作上(形容他们是在笑或者是在哭),或者推断出这些表情的原因(“有人死了”)。

In other words, neither researcher found evidence that what is behind a facial expression – including whether an expression reflects an innermost emotion at all – is innately or universally understood.

换句话说,两名研究人员都没有找到证据表明面部表情究竟是否与生俱来,或者是否可以被普遍理解。也没有证据表明表情是否反映了最为内在的情感。

Making matters more complicated, even when our facial expressions are interpreted by others as exhibiting a certain feeling, they might pinpoint an emotion we’re not actually experiencing.

让事情变得更为复杂的是,即使我们的面部表情被其他人解读为某种情绪的呈现,他们也有可能指认的是某种我们其实并没有经历的情感。

In a 2017 analysis of about 50 studies, researchers found that only a minority of people’s faces reflected their actual feelings. According to co-author Rainer Reisenzein, there was one strong exception: amusement, which almost always resulted in smiling or laughter.

2017年一篇对大约50项研究的分析报告中,研究人员发现,只有少数人的表情反映他们的真实感受。据该研究报告的合著者赖森采恩(Rainer Reisenzein)说,有一个很大的例外,就是娱乐,它几乎总是能让人微笑或者大笑。

Reisenzein hesitates to interpret what those findings mean. “I’m one of these old-fashioned scientists who just do research,” he jokes. However, he does feel that there are good evolutionary reasons for us not to reveal our inner states to other people: “It puts us at a disadvantage.”

赖森采恩犹犹豫豫地解释这些发现的意义。“我是那种只会埋头做研究的老式科学家,”他开玩笑说。然而,他确实认为,我们不会向其他人透露内心状态是可以用进化论充分解释的:“那会让我们处于劣势地位。”

If our expressions don’t actually reflect our feelings, there are enormous consequences.

如果我们的表情不能真实反映内心感受,将带来深远的影响。

One is in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), specifically robotics. “A good number of people are training their artificial intelligence and their social robots using these classic ‘poster’ faces,” says Fridlund. But if someone who frowns at a robot is signalling something other than simple unhappiness, the AI may respond to them incorrectly.

一个是人工智能领域,特别是机器人技术。弗里德隆德说:“很多人都在用这些经典的'海报'脸来训练他们的人工智能和社交机器人。”但是,如果一个人冲着机器人皱眉,并非为了表达纯粹的不快,那么人工智能可能会做出错误的回应。

“There’s no way to predict how the robot should react when it sees a smiley face or a pouty face or a growling face,” Fridlund points out. “You have to have some kind of knowledge of the person’s role with respect to you, and also your history together, before knowing what that face means.” Fridlund, who consults with companies that develop AI, feels that AI taught to draw from contextual cues will be more effective.

“没办法预测机器人在看到笑脸、不悦的脸或气冲冲的脸时,应该做何反应,”弗里德隆德指出。“你知道那张脸的含义之前,你必须对这个人跟你的关系有一定的了解,还要了解你自己的过去。”为研发人工智能的企业提供咨询的弗里德隆德认为,教会人工智能从语境中获取线索将使机器更加有效地识别表情。

For most of us, though, the new research may have most of an effect on how we interpret social interactions. It turns out that we might communicate better if we saw faces not as mirroring hidden emotions – but rather as actively trying to speak to us.

但对于大多数人来说,新的研究可能会对我们如何诠释社会交往产生很大影响。事实证明,如果不把面孔视为隐藏情绪的外在反映,而是视作积极主动地交谈尝试,也许我们会进行更有成效的沟通。

People should read faces “kind of like a road sign,” says Fridlund. “It’s like a switch on a railroad track: do we go here or do we go there in the conversation?” That scowl on your friend’s face may not be actual anger; maybe she just wants you to agree with her point of view. Your son’s pout doesn’t necessarily reflect sadness; he may just want you to empathise or to protect him from an uncomfortable situation.

人们应该把面孔“视为像路标一样的东西”,弗里德隆德说。“这就像是铁轨上的一个开关:我们的谈话是要走这个方向还是那个方向?”你朋友脸上的怒容可能并非真的愤怒;或许她只是想让你同意她的观点。你儿子看起来不开心可能也不是心情不好,他可能只是想让你感同身受,或者希望你帮他摆脱不舒服的情境。

Take laughter, says Waller: “when you laugh and how you laugh within a social interaction is absolutely crucial.” An inappropriately-timed laugh might not reveal your inner joy at what’s going on – but it might show that you’re not paying close attention to the conversation, or may even signal hostility.

沃勒说,以笑声为例,“在社交互动中,你什么时候笑,如何笑,绝对是很重要的事情。”一个不合时宜的笑也许并不会透露出你内心对此时的事情感到高兴,而可能表明,你的心思根本不在谈话上,甚至可能是敌意的信号。

For Crivelli, our faces may even be more calculating than that. He compares us to puppeteers, with our expressions like “invisible wires or ropes that you are trying to use to manipulate the other.”

对于克里韦利来说,我们的面孔甚至可能比这个还要狡猾。他把我们比作木偶演员,我们的表情就像“隐形的线或绳子,用来操纵他人”。

And, of course, that other person is manipulating us right back. We’re social creatures, after all.

当然,对方也在操纵我们。我们终归是社会动物。

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