Researchers have identified a single, universal facial expression that is interpreted across cultures —whether one speaks Mandarin, Chinese or English — as the embodiment of negative emotion.
This facial expression that the researchers call “not face” consists of furrowed brows of “anger”, raised chin of “disgust” and the pressed-together lips of “contempt”, the study said.
“To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that the facial expressions we use to communicate negative moral judgment have been compounded into a unique, universal part of language,” said Aleix Martinez, cognitive scientist and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Ohio State University in the US. The look proved identical for native speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language (ASL), the researchers said. The study, published in the journal Cognition, also revealed that our facial muscles contract to form the “not face” at the same frequency at which we speak.