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A new universal facial expression? Enter the Not Face

Do they agree with me?

What are they thinking?

Do they like this decision?

These are just a few of the types of questions that run through our head during an interaction. As humans, we are designed to pick up on and read the nonverbal displays of emotions in others. One way that we do this is through reading microexpressions. A microexpression is a brief, involuntary response to feeling an intense emotion.

not face, microexpressions, microexpression

There are 7 universal microexpressions that correspond to a specific emotion:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Surprise
  • Disgust
  • Contempt
  • Happiness

But this is old news. Scientists have recently discovered what could potentially be the 8th universal microexpression…

Enter: the “Not Face.”

The Not Face is described as the universal expression for disagreement. This new microexpression has been discovered by researchers at Ohio University. The Not Face isn’t quite its own expression, however. It’s actually a combination of 3 other microexpressions: disgust, contempt and anger and indicates negation, disapproval and disagreement. 

not face, microexpressions, microexpression

Look familiar? Have you seen this face on colleagues or friends? According to researchers, you’ve probably seen it more than you think.


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About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and behavioral investigator. She is a Huffington Post columnist and her courses and research has been featured on CNN, Forbes, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal. As a published Penguin author, Vanessa regularly speaks and appears in the media to talk about her research. She is a sought after consultant and speaker.

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