Want to know what expressions people in Papua New Guinea or Siberia use most? Look in the mirror.
A study making waves this week in Nature finds that people around the world show emotion on their faces with the same expressions, in a wide variety of contexts.
The researchers did not have to step foot on a plane. Academics at the University of California at Berkeley partnered with Google for a machine learning analysis of facial expressions in 6 million YouTube clips from 144 countries.
Here are the 16 expressions they found for common emotions. Can you identify all 16?
These are the expressions for: amusement, anger, awe, concentration, confusion, contempt, contentment, desire, disappointment, doubt, elation, interest, pain, sadness, surprise, and triumph.
Human faces typically have 43 muscles that create thousands of different expressions. The study found that different cultures share about 70% of facial expressions, with common contexts including gazing in awe at fireworks, grimacing in pain while lifting something heavy, and flashing a triumphant face at a sports game.
The study was submitted to Nature pre-pandemic and does not address that all these expressions are now hidden behind masks.