The facial expression indicating disagreement is universal, researchers say.
A furrowed brow, lifted chin and pressed-together lips - a mix of anger, disgust and contempt - are used to show negative moral judgment among speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin and American Sign Language (ASL), according to a new study published in the May issue of the journal Cognition. In ASL, speakers sometimes use this "not face" alone, without any other negative sign, to indicate disagreement in a sentence.
"Sometimes, the only way you can tell that the meaning of the sentence is negative is, that person made the ‘not face' when they signed it," Aleix Martinez, a cognitive scientist and professor of electrical and computer engineering at The Ohio State University, said in a statement.
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Combo expression Martinez and his colleagues previously identified 21 distinct facial emotions, including six basic emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust), plus combinations of those (happy surprise, for example, or the kind of happy disgust someone might express after hearing a joke about poop).