Surprise (emotion)  

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"Musei Wormiani Historia", the frontispiece from the Museum Wormianum depicting Ole Worm's cabinet of curiosities
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"Musei Wormiani Historia", the frontispiece from the Museum Wormianum depicting Ole Worm's cabinet of curiosities

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Surprise is a brief emotional state that is the result of an unexpected event. It is one of the six basic emotions identified by Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen in their 1975 book, Unmasking the Face. Surprise can be neutral, pleasant, or unpleasant.

Surprise is expressed in the face by the following features:

  • Eyebrows that are raised so they become curved and high.
  • Stretched skin below the eyebrows.
  • Horizontal wrinkles across the forehead.
  • Open eyelids-- the upper lid is raised and the lower lid is drawn down, often exposing the white sclera above and below the iris.
  • Dropped jaw so that the lips and teeth are parted, with no tension around the mouth.

Spontaneous, involuntary surprise is often expressed for only a fraction of a second. It may be followed immediately by the emotion of fear or joy. The intensity of the surprise is associated with how much the jaw drops, but the mouth may not open at all in some cases. The raising of the eyebrows, at least momentarily, is the most distinctive and predictable sign of surprise.

Professional magicians and illusionists make their living through performing seemingly impossible feats and consequently generating pleasant surprises for an audience.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Surprise (emotion)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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