Comedic Relief

Comedic Relief

Some of you may have already seen the humorous set of images above online. While some think that these expressions (the human’s, not the dog’s) are ones of shame, we’d like to suggest that they are expressions of control, where a person is trying to control their emotions and hide how they are truly feeling.

Dr. Matsumoto does believe there is a universal expression of shame, but there is yet to be evidence for its distinctiveness from submission. Please read the paragraph below:

Whole body behaviors opposite to those associated with triumph (e.g., head tilted forward or down, tongue out, eyes closed, and one or both arms pulled in toward body) have been studied. Some researchers (e.g., Tracy & Matsumoto, 2008) have labeled these behaviors as “shame.” But these same behaviors have also been associated with submission (see also Andrews, Brewin, Rose, & Kirk, 2000; Dickerson, Gruenewald, & Kemeny, 2004; Hall, Coats, & LeBeau 2005; Keltner & Harker, 1998).

There is yet to be definitive research delineating the difference between expressive behaviors related to shame and submission.

For more info, read our past blog post entitled Lie to Me: What Expression is This?”

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