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The 16 facial expressions most common to emotional situations worldwide

Alan Cowen

(Click to enlarge) Facial expressions of emotion transcend geography and culture worldwide, new study shows. Credit:
Whether at a birthday party in Brazil, a funeral in Kenya or protests in Hong Kong, humans all use variations of the same facial expressions in similar social contexts, such as smiles, frowns, grimaces and scowls, a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows.

The findings, published today, Dec. 16, in the journal Nature, confirm the universality of human emotional expression across geographic and cultural boundaries at a time when nativism and populism are on the rise around the world.

"This study reveals how remarkably similar people are in different corners of the world in how we express emotion in the face of the most meaningful contexts of our lives," said study co-lead author Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychology professor.

Comment: Despite the closing remarks, it has probably got nothing to do with Darwinism: And check out SOTT radio's:


Arrow Up

Researchers could induce illusions on demand

Hallucinations
© Jane Khomi / Getty Images
Studying hallucinations is tricky business, and it can be distressing for people with conditions such as schizophrenia or dementia who have them.

Cognitive neuroscientists say they can get around this by inducing hallucinations on demand in people from the general population.

Hallucinations "can be induced in almost anyone at any time", they write in an opinion piece published in the journal Philosophical Transactions B.

Because hallucinations are a private experience that can't be independently verified, researchers usually rely on asking patients to introspect and subjectively describe their experience.

This can be biased and problematic, explains Sebastian Rogers from Australia's University of NSW: someone with dementia, for instance, may have trouble accurately reporting the episode.

They also tend to be complex and unpredictable. Visual hallucinations, for example, can include a range of different elements such as humans, faces, animals, landscapes, shapes, colours and movement.

And it can be hard to tell when someone will start or stop hallucinating, making it very difficult to study in the lab.

Bulb

How close is too close?

Władysławowo beach
© Photo by Kacper Kowalski/Panos Pictures
Władysławowo beach, Poland, August 2020.
Heini Hediger, a noted 20th-century Swiss biologist and zoo director, knew that animals ran away when they felt unsafe. But when he set about designing and building zoos himself, he realised he needed a more precise understanding of how animals behaved when put in proximity to one another. Hediger decided to investigate the flight response systematically, something that no one had done before.

Light Saber

Dissenting voices: Finding courage to speak against your assailant

lab coat
A man in a white lab coat with advanced degrees in medicine sexually abused hundreds of young girl gymnasts in his office, sometimes while their parents stood nearby. Michigan State University professor and USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar penetrated girls, most younger than 16, some younger than 13, with an ungloved hand, saying he was examining them internally, doing check-ups necessary for them to perform as young athletes. This doctor continued his abuse of hundreds of girls over many years.

For years, girls told other coaches, the police, university administrators, psychologists. They repeatedly told USA gymnastics officials. And yet, Nassar was not stopped until his arrest in 2016. The girls obeyed. Hundreds of parents kept taking their daughters to see him. Girls must have complained. Some probably vomited quietly in the bathroom later or cried by themselves. They kept competing in gymnastics events.

How was this doctor able to do what he did over these many years?

Well-meaning parents, coaches, teachers, attending nurses; hundreds of adults surrounded this man while he violated young girl athletes in plain view. He was able to do this because he was an "expert", a "scientist", someone whom others were certain knew... more than they did... what was best.

He wore a white lab coat and had diplomas on his office walls. He had a high salary, a long career, a staff, and institutions behind him.

Arrow Up

'Collective traumatic experience': People report more anger and sadness in their dreams during pandemic

The sleeper
© Getty Images/EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS
The pandemic sleeper
A new study examining the impact of Covid-19 on our dreams has found that anger, sadness and hygiene are more commonly reported emotions and themes than before, as real-world fears manifest in the unconscious world.

Previous research suggested that dreams are a continuation of our waking reality - a long-suspected theory about the nocturnal neverland humans inevitably enter.

Confirming these earlier findings, this new research yields additional insights into the impact of social distancing and more rigid hand-washing practices on our subconscious. "These results corroborate the hypothesis that pandemic dreams reflect mental suffering, fear of contagion, and important changes in daily habits that directly impact socialisation," write the researchers.

They studied 239 dream reports submitted by 67 different people in Brazil before and after lockdowns between the months of March and April, when the pandemic truly began to take hold worldwide.

Wolf

The perfect fictional psychopath: We Need to Talk About Kevin

broken mirror psychopathy
© Getty
Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Stephen McWilliams observes that author Lionel Shiver and film director Lynne Ramsay's dramatic thrillers raise important questions about psychopathy and society and the enduring 'nature versus nurture' debate on where evil comes from

It is difficult not to empathise with a child in any novel, even if they seem to tick most of the boxes for psychopathy. Twelve-year-old Josephine Leonides murders her grandfather and her nanny in Agatha Christie's novel The Crooked House (1949), yet most readers would feel at least a pang of sorrow for her in the end.

Alas, the same cannot be said for Kevin Khatchadourian, the protagonist in Lionel Shiver's dramatic thriller We Need to Talk About Kevin. Many readers will be familiar with this book; it sold more than a million copies and garnered its author the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction in 2005. It was subsequently adapted for film by Director Lynne Ramsay and starred Tilda Swinton.

The film premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was screened in September of the same year at the Toronto International Film Festival to much critical acclaim.

Sun

Alexander Solzhenitsyn: Live not by lies

Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Solzhenitsyn penned this essay in 1974 and it circulated among Moscow's intellectuals at the time. It is dated Feb. 12, the same day that secret police broke into his apartment and arrested him. The next day he was exiled to West Germany. The essay is a call to moral courage and serves as light to all who value truth.

At one time we dared not even to whisper. Now we write and read samizdat, and sometimes when we gather in the smoking room at the Science Institute we complain frankly to one another: What kind of tricks are they playing on us, and where are they dragging us? Gratuitous boasting of cosmic achievements while there is poverty and destruction at home. Propping up remote, uncivilized regimes. Fanning up civil war. And we recklessly fostered Mao Tse-tung at our expense — and it will be we who are sent to war against him, and will have to go. Is there any way out? And they put on trial anybody they want and they put sane people in asylums — always they, and we are powerless.

Things have almost reached rock bottom. A universal spiritual death has already touched us all, and physical death will soon flare up and consume us both and our children — but as before we still smile in a cowardly way and mumble without tounges tied. But what can we do to stop it? We haven't the strength?

Comment: The stark admonitions and guidance that Solzhenitsyn gave decades ago were no less relevant then than they are right now, in the West. We'd do well to heed them to the best of our ability.


SOTT Logo Radio

MindMatters: Navigating The Chaos

don't panic
As current events and crazy people continue to spiral downhill with ever greater frequency and intensity, we find ourselves challenged not to react or respond in ways that are detrimental to ourselves and those around us. From both within and without each of us faces the choices of what to believe, how to feel - and what the appropriate responses to life could and should be. Will we fall prey to the Adversary's thinking and control, or will we follow the archetype of individuation, growth and the path of the Hero?

Taking a passage from Jordan Peterson's Maps of Meaning as inspiration, this week on MindMatters we examine the thought processes, emotions and intentions that may assist us in navigating the chaos. When political, social and cultural institutions continue to disintegrate around us and threaten to drag down all those in their sphere of influence, we must be our own anchors and continue to exercise our higher faculties to maintain some semblance of equilibrium. But just how to do this is a question we must ask for ourselves every day, and a framework for doing this is what we can start building for ourselves (and for those who look to us) right now.


Running Time: 00:55:22

Download: MP3 — 50.7 MB


Bulb

The individual solution to avoiding totalitarianism

no face masks allowed
Shortly after the turn of this century, I found myself standing in one of the halls of political power in former Czechoslovakia, after hearing the umpteenth horror story from communism, and saying to myself "I wish I could live through a little bit of communism to see how normal people allowed it to all happen."

You see, I just couldn't believe how this stable and prosperous interwar democracy could find itself in the throes of Stalinist communism and its psychological turmoil. It was shortly after World War II though, in 1948, that the communists came to power and there was a lot of "new normal" to deal with after the horrors of war. Akin to our current era, there was even a period of Czechoslovak communism called "normalizacia" or normalization.

What was this thing called normalization? It was the "second wave" of Stalinism led by the old guard, a return after the liberalization of the 1968 Prague Spring to the most oppressive communism, a "new normal."

Normalization lasted from the fall of 1968 until November 17, 1989, when a peaceful revolution was set into place in former Czechoslovakia.

Comment: Obviously we want to exercise some judiciousness and strategy in the face of a pack of authoritarian followers, but the author's question still holds: What choices are we making at this moment in order to [help] spread greater liberty in the world?


SOTT Logo Radio

MindMatters: The Impenetrable Fortress of Thoughtitude: When Belief Trumps Truth

closed minds
We all have belief systems, maps to reality that inform our perspectives and help us form the bedrock values we have about ourselves, others, and the world at large. This means thoughts on everything from religion and politics to how we interact with friends, and the specific truths about reality we have come to know and adapted to in our everyday lives. But when it comes to taking in new facts, what are the psychological and emotional processes involved in bringing ourselves to a higher or more constructive "place" with this new information? And how does the weaker part of our character seek to stifle new information in its desire to "be right" and remain "comfortable"?

This week on MindMatters we discuss the difficulties and challenges of looking at our own thought processes, default beliefs, and sometimes obsolete "knowledge" of things. There's a reason people don't like discussing politics or religion at the dinner table, but that won't stop us from doing it here. Did Mohammad really exist? Did Jesus? Are Democrats or Republicans always wrong? And how do our thoughts on such things prevent us from looking at data that might otherwise change our minds? With some determination, and truth as the ultimate value, we have the tools to form a more constructive view of ourselves, and of the world in which we live.


Running Time: 01:18:35

Download: MP3 — 72 MB