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  • Humans have very complex, deep, and nuanced emotions.

  • Bummer! our face doesn't show them at all.

  • Anthony Carboni here for DNews and you can usually tell how someone is feeling by their facial expression.

  • There's a commonly held theory that across all cultures, humans actually only have six different emotional facial expressions.

  • Happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust.

  • All this is based on some research by a psychologist named Paul Ekman based on a theory by Charles Darwin.

  • Darwin thought that people worldwide must manifest emotions in the same way,

  • And Ekman traveled around the world asking people from all types of cultures to show him those emotions.

  • And the expressions always matched.

  • He called it the Basic Emotion model, and he said that he could even use it to recognize a liar by the difference between an actual expression and the microexpressions made by someone attempting to mimic them without the actual feeling behind them.

  • He even consulted with the CIA about it in the 70s to help their interrogators.

  • The research has been pretty widely accepted since it debuted in 1969, but certain studies have shown otherwise.

  • One showed people pictures of two scowling faces and said "Hey, do these people feel the same way?"

  • And the answer was not always yes.

  • Another showed people an angry face, but didn't give them "angry" as a choice.

  • Those people were perfectly happy to choose "disgust" or "contempt" instead.

  • So, it sounds like we might be too complex to fit into a model.

  • But what if the model is actually too complex for our faces?

  • New research by the University of Glasgow says that we've actually got four emotions that we universally express.

  • Happiness and sadness are two of them, but fear and surprise are the same, and anger and disgust are the same.

  • The study says that all humans begin with the same simple expressions of biologically-rooted signals.

  • All the other details are added depending on the culture and society we live in.

  • Smiling is always happy, frowning is always sad, scrunching our nose is the beginning of anger and disgust, though.

  • And that comes from a basic need to show something displeasing or dangerous is happening, and it also stops us from inhaling harmful particles.

  • Fear and surprise start the same too, with widening eyes - you take in more visual information, you assess your situation, you look for a potential escape.

  • After those four basic emotions, everything else is actually cultural.

  • As we spread out across the world, we created much more nuanced expressions to fit our societies.

  • Studies show that Asian cultures use the eyes much more to identify emotion, while Europeans use their mouths much more.

  • I went to Russia last year and people told me that I was smiling too much, and that it looked fake.

  • I don't know if that's because I'm American or because they see me for the shame that I really am.

  • You know what else I'm wondering?

  • I've got a dog at home, and I feel like I could read his expressions, too.

  • I wonder if they use the same emotions.

Humans have very complex, deep, and nuanced emotions.

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A2 US disgust facial anger darwin complex basic

We Only Have Four Facial Expressions!

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    TeacherJennifer Bryne posted on 2020/09/06
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