Whether at a birthday party in Brazil, a funeral in Kenya or protests in Hong Kong, everyone uses variations of the same facial expressions in similar social contexts, such as laughter , frowns, grimaces and scowls, a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows.
The findings, published today, Dec. 16, are in the journal Nature, the universal affirmation of human emotional sentiment across geographical and cultural boundaries at a time when naturalism and republicanism are on the rise across the globe.
“This study shows how amazing people in different parts of the world are at how we express feelings against the most meaningful contexts of our lives,” said co-author. the study was led by Dacher Keltner, UC Berkeley professor of psychology.
Researchers at UC Berkeley and Google used machine learning technology called “deep neural network” to analyze facial expressions in some 6 million video clips uploaded to YouTube from people in 144 countries spanning North, Central and South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
“This is the first worldwide study of the use of facial expressions in everyday life, and it shows us that all human emotional expressions are much richer and more complex than many of them used to be. scientists accept it before, “said the study ‘s lead author Alan Cowen, a researcher at both UC Berkeley and Google who helped develop a deep neural network algorithm and led the study.
Cowen created an online interactive map that shows how the algorithm tracks changes in facial expressions related to 16 emotions.
In addition to encouraging cross-cultural empathy, potential applications include helping people who have difficulty reading emotions, such as children and children. adults with autism, recognizing the faces that people usually make to express certain feelings.
The normal human face has 43 different muscles that can be activated around the eyes, nose, mouth, jaws, chin and brow to make thousands of different expressions.
Researchers first used Cowen’s machine learning algorithm to record facial expressions seen in 6 million video clips of events and interactions around the world, such as watching fireworks, dancing cheerfully or the sobbing baby console.
They used the algorithm to track examples of 16 facial expressions that one tends to relate to fun, anger, surprise, concentration, upset, contempt, happiness, desire, disappointment, doubt, shouting, interest, pain, sadness, wonder and victory.
Next, they linked the face expressions with the contexts and situations in which they were made across different parts of the world and found similarities in how people over geographical and cultural boundaries using facial expressions in different social contexts.
“We found that rich nuances in facial behavior – including subtle phrases that we associate with surprise, pain, influence, and 13 other emotions – are used in similar social situations. all over the world, “said Cowen.
For example, Cowen noted that in the video clips, people all over the world tended to stare in fireworks displays, express joy at weddings, wake up in the air. their focus when performing martial arts, showing skepticism at protests, pain when lifting weights and winning at rock concerts and competitive sporting events.
The results showed that people from different cultures share about 70% of the facial expressions used in response to different social and emotional situations.
“This supports Darwin’s theory that the expression of emotion in our faces is universal among humans,” said Keltner. “The physical expression of our emotions may explain who we are. sex, enhancing our communication and co – operation skills and ensuring our survival. “
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