UC Berkeley: All Humans Have 16 Facial Expression in Common Regardless of Cultural Differences

A new UC Berkeley study showed that the seven billion people on Earth have something else in common. They all have 16 facial expressions in common that are used in similar contexts.

Different Emotions Smileys

Different Emotions Smiley

Cultural differences don’t make a difference

Cultural differences do not seem to matter in this case as humans share 70% of facial expressions that instinctively take place in certain social and emotional situations. Birthday parties, demonstrations, funerals, religious services…etc. These circumstances lead to the same facial responses no matter what part of the world you are from according to a study published in Nature. However, the human face has 43 muscles and whose movements can generally produce thousands of different expressions!

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The researchers were able to find a total of 16 expressions whose variations are similar in all countries. The facial expressions were shown to be similar for the following states/feelings: Fun, anger, fear, concentration, confusion, contempt, satisfaction, longing, disappointment, doubt, enthusiasm, interest, pain, sadness, surprise, and triumph. “This study shows how remarkably similar humans are In the way we express our emotions in the most important contexts of our lives,” says Dacher Keltner, one of the authors of the study.

A trait shared by the whole species

To achieve this, researchers from the University of Berkeley collaborated with Google. Together, they used a deep neural network, an automatic learning technology that scanned the facial expressions of people in six million YouTube videos that were recorded in 144 different countries.  According to Alan Cowen, another co-author in the study  This was the first global analysis of how facial expressions are used in everyday life.

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The researchers concluded from their study that universal human expressions are much richer and more complex than the scientific community had assumed. They created an interactive map and put it online to show the public the observations of the algorithm. According to Keltner, the findings suggest that “the physical exposure of our emotions can define who we are as a species.”

This exposure could also improve our ability to communicate, cooperate, and even ensure our survival. With this in mind, the researchers envision that one of the applications of their study could be to help people who have difficulty reading facial expressions, such as those with autism.

Were you surprised by the results of the study? feel free to share your thoughts in the comment area below!


Sixteen facial expressions occur in similar contexts worldwide



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