New Darwin and Emotions Resources

Expression, Fig. 21 (Horror)

Darwin’s work on the expression of emotions began with observations he made on the Beagle voyage.  After almost 40 years of collecting data (including observations of his own children) and thinking about the conceptual issues, he originally intended it to be published as a chapter of Descent of Man (1871). However, Darwin soon realised that this would not do the topic justice.  He abandoned the chapter and, after Descent was published, he put the wealth of material that he had gathered together from all over the world into the monograph The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872).


One of the sources of evidence in Expression was the responses to the expression questionnaire that Darwin began sending out to correspondents across the globe from 1867. Its purpose was to gather information on the emotional behaviour of non-Europeans.  We have added a commentary and collated the replies to the questionnaire in interactive map and table form here.


During our recent work on emotions, we have collaborated with the Autism Research Centre and the Cambridge Computer Science Laboratory. We held a Face of Emotion event in which Darwin’s work on expression was discussed in the context of current research in artificial intelligence, autism, and neuroscience. You can listen to the short talks given here.


These new resources are in addition to Darwin’s notebook of observations on children, and an online recreation of the emotion experiment that Darwin carried out with Benjamin Duchenne’s photographs, with family, friends and other visitors to Down as his subjects.

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