Written all over your face: humans express four basic emotions rather than six, says new study
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Date posted: 06/02/2014
Posted by: Site Administration
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Embodiment

Human beings are emotional creatures whose state of mind can usually be observed through their facial expressions.

A commonly-held belief, first proposed by Dr Paul Ekman, posits there are six basic emotions which are universally recognised and easily interpreted through specific facial expressions, regardless of language or culture. These are: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.

New research published in the journal Current Biology by scientists at the University of Glasgow has challenged this view, and suggested that visually at least, there are only four basic emotions.

Their conclusion was reached by studying the range of different muscles within the face – or Action Units as researchers refer to them – involved in signalling different emotions, as well as the time-frame over which each muscle was activated.

This is the first such study to objectively examine the ‘temporal dynamics’ of facial expressions, made possible by using a unique Generative Face Grammar platform developed at the University of Glasgow.

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