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These are the 16 most common facial expressions worldwide (that we can’t see anymore behind masks)

Academics partnered with Google for a machine learning analysis of facial expressions in 6 million YouTube clips from 144 countries.

These are the 16 most common facial expressions worldwide (that we can’t see anymore behind masks)
[Photo: Daria Shevtsova/Pexels]
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Want to know what expressions people in Papua New Guinea or Siberia use most? Look in the mirror.

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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?

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[Image: Alan Cowen]
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.