Mass opinion once held that smiles, grimaces, and other emotional expressions were learned behavior.
Some people are more difficult to read than others, but is that the only difficulty? Do facial expressions mean the same thing to every individual or in every culture?
With 43 facial muscles, the human face is able to make thousands of various expressions, according to Constantly Curious. But does the same combination of muscular movements always communicate the same emotion? Until the mid-20th century, most people believed that facial expressions were conditioned cultural constructions with only a few, including Charles Darwin, believing otherwise.
But psychologist Paul Ekman’s research in the 1960s showed that indigenous peoples with no prior exposure to other societies were able to infer emotional states from the same facial expressions as those associated with these emotions in other cultures. Further research comparing the facial expressions of sighted and blind people showed that those born blind employed the same facial expressions for victory and defeat as sighted people, despite the fact that they had never seen the expression.
But how can that be? What makes facial expressions universal?
Watch the video below to find out more.