People change their face in thousands of ways to express emotions, but only 35 of them are recognized at a cultural level, a recent study shows.
Although our face can transmit a multitude of emotions, from anger to sadness and joy, the ways in which the features of the face change are varied. According to Science Dailly, disgust, for example, requires a single facial expression to be understood throughout the world
On the other hand, happiness can be expressed in 17 different forms, from joy, delight, thanks and others. “This breakthrough is delightful,” said Aleix Martinez, a cognitive specialist at Ohio State University. “It shows the complex nature of happiness,” he continued.
The study also found that people use three expressions to express fear, four to express surprise, and five to show sadness and anger. “Happiness acts as a social glue and requires the complexity of different facial expressions,” Martinez said.
The findings are based on Martinez’s earlier facial expression studies, which found that people can identify other people’s emotions with an accuracy of 75%.
In the current study, Martinez and search engineer Ramprakash Srinivasan, PhD student of Ohio University, made a list of words to describe emotions. The list contains 821 words in English. Then they used the words to search the internet for images of people’s faces. Translators also translated the words into Spanish, Mandarin, Persian, and Russian.
They used words on popular search engines in 31 countries in South America, North, Europe, Asia and Australia. They have discovered about 7.2 million images of facial expressions from a variety of cultures. The study does not include African countries and isolated areas of the world.
According to computerized algorithms, Martinez and Srinivasan have discovered that people’s face can be changed in 16,384 ways by combining muscles in different ways. Then they sorted out the 7.2 million images in different categories according to the emotions expressed by each culture. Martinez initially thought he would discover a few hundred expressions. In fact, they only found 35.
“We were shocked, we thought we’d find a lot more,” Martinez said.