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VWN Printer Friendly News: Your face says it all? Not so fast

 Your face says it all? Not so fast
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Date posted: 05/03/2014
Posted by: Site Administration
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It’s a con­cept that had become uni­ver­sally under­stood: humans expe­ri­ence six basic emotions—happiness, sad­ness, anger, fear, dis­gust, and surprise—and use the same set of facial move­ments to express them. What’s more, we can rec­og­nize emo­tions on another’s face, whether that person hails from Boston or Borneo.

The only problem with this con­cept, according to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Lisa Feldman Bar­rett, is that it isn’t true at all.

For nearly two decades, Bar­rett has been tracking down the research that estab­lished this mis­con­cep­tion and wouldn’t rest until she actu­ally per­formed the exper­i­ments to dis­prove it.

In two research papers, recently and soon to be pub­lished in the jour­nals Psy­cho­log­ical Sci­ence and Emo­tion, respectively, she’s finally done exactly that. The new research calls into ques­tion the very foun­da­tions of emo­tion sci­ence. As Bar­rett found, “Emo­tions are not uni­ver­sally per­ceived. Every­thing that’s pred­i­cated on that is a mistake.”

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