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The 17 facial expressions that express happiness around the world

The 17 facial expressions that express happiness around the world

The 17 facial expressions that express happiness around the world

Disgust needs just one facial expression to get its point across throughout the world. Happiness, on the other hand, has 17 varied forms of cheer, delight and contentedness, new research finds. 

Experts have discovered that the human face is capable of contorting itself into more happy faces than any other emotion. 

Only three facial guises successfully convey fear, four show surprise, five display sadness and anger and one for disgust. 

Happiness, on the other hand, has 17 – a testament to the many varied forms of cheer, delight and contentedness.

“This was delightful to discover,” said Aleix Martinez, cognitive scientist, professor of electrical and computer engineering at The Ohio State University, and study co-author, “because it speaks to the complex nature of happiness.”

Researchers at the Ohio State University compiled a list of 821 words that expressed emotions and had these translated into a number of languages including Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Farsi and Russian.

They plugged the words into search engines popular in 31 countries across North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and ended up with approximately 7.2 million images of facial expressions across a variety of cultures.

Despite the plethora of facial arrangements that are possible with the human face, researchers found only 35 were transferable over different cultures.  

Psychologists have debated how to classify human emotion for centuries. An ancient Chinese text described seven “feelings of men” as joy, anger, sadness, fear, love, disliking and liking.

Martinez, whose research interests intersect both engineering and the behaviour of the human brain, thought there had to be more than just seven or eight.

“To think that humans are only capable of eight emotions is absurd,” he said. “We are complex creatures. What about the different forms of joy? We experience the world on a much deeper level than just eight emotions.”

Martinez figured they’d find at least a few hundred, but found only 35.

“We were shocked,” Martinez said. “I thought there would be way, way more.”

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