Are Facial Expressions Universal?

Posted on Categories Discover Magazine

Scientists debate whether the faces humans make mean the same thing around the world.

Everyone smiles in the same language, right? For decades, psychologists have backed up the idea that facial expressions are universal. Paul Ekman’s research in the 1960s was a driving force behind this popular notion. He found cultures worldwide describe facial expressions the same way: For example, a scrunched-up nose signals disgust. Even in the isolated Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea, Ekman’s theory held up. But other researchers believe subtle differences in facial expressions ex…

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