Friday, January 7, 2011

Facial Expressions--Fear

The following is a combination of information I found on Emotional Competency and Physiology of Facial Expressions.

Fear and anxiety are closely related. Both are provoked by danger. And we all know how important danger is to a good story. Fear is the response to a specific and immediate danger. Anxiety results from a non-specific concern or threat. Translation--worry that danger is coming or will become immediate.

There are times when you will want to show your character's fear without stating it. I never thought about this before, but why do you think we make fearful expressions in the first place?

Fear expressions send a danger warning to those close by.

Synonyms for fear include: horror, fright, petrified, scared, shocked, hysterical, mortified, and terrified. The terms dread, alarm, and panic may refer to either anxiety or fear.

What does it look like?

Fear: The eyes widen and the upper lids rise, as in surprise, but the brows draw together. The lips stretch horizontally.

Body Language: See The Bookshelf Muse's page on Fear.


  1. Fascinating. Now I'm wondering about why our faces show our feelings. I'll have to check out those links.

  2. Hmm. Interesting indeed!

    Did you know, also, when shown subliminal pictures there's more brain activity for anxiety/fear and anger expressions that happy ones? And if shown a happy and angry/scared face at the same time you're more likely to see the latter? It's believed to be something to do with the fact fear and anger require a more immediate social response so you pick up on them first.

    Sorry. I have been studying too much. Hehe. But expressions are interesting things.

  3. Great Post! As a psychology student, I have learned about how the body is affected with anxiety/fear, but in my writing a mystery novel involving a scary spirit, these facial expressions will be great.

  4. What an interesting blog! Glad I found you through the Crusade!


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