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Humans share dozens of universal emotions


Posted on Friday, 27 June, 2014 | Comment icon 12 comments

Happiness is a universal emotion. Image Credit: sxc.hu
There are at least 30 facial expressions for emotions that can be recognized anywhere in the world.
While we tend to take it for granted that we can determine if someone is happy, sad or excited no matter what part of the world they are from, not all emotions can be universally understood.

If you encountered a remote Amazon tribe for example you may have no problem understanding expressions of excitement or happiness, but emotions such as sympathy, desire and coyness tend not to translate very well across cultures.

In a recent study psychologist Daniel Cordaro and his colleagues attempted to determine just how many human emotions truly are universal by recording a number of emotional reactions from volunteers in different continents and then showing them to people from different countries to see which they could recognize.

The results indicated at least 30 emotions that could be understood anywhere in the world.

"Each emotion boils down to a story," said Cordaro. "Culture teaches us the stories under which we use these emotions, but look underneath them, there will be some theme."

Source: Live Science | Comments (12)

Tags: Emotions, Expressions

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Frank Merton on 27 June, 2014, 12:39
In my more ambitious younger years I set out to catalog virtues and vices and emotions and sensations in the languages I knew. There was a Chinese word that I could think of no Vietnamese or English equivalent to, and which I see English translations of Confucius put as "righteousness." Surely it is not seen as an emotion but as a kind of catchall for being virtuous. Not being native Chinese I have no gut feeling for the word, and when I have questioned Chinese I have gotten varying responses, but basically it means a generalized tendency or desire to do what is right. Well I suppose "goodness... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by maximusnow on 27 June, 2014, 14:48
The problem, I do not want to share emotions with any one. Emotions are like chemicals, if you mix them, they can explode.
Comment icon #5 Posted by hammerclaw on 27 June, 2014, 15:08
There are always new words to discover in languages, other than one's own. English is known as the great borrower because it's speakers constantly incorporate words from other languages into it's vocabulary.
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer on 27 June, 2014, 15:23
Well, all salespeople use the universal "trust me!" smile.
Comment icon #7 Posted by redhen on 27 June, 2014, 16:16
The problem, I do not want to share emotions with any one. They're meant to be shared, that's we (and other animals) have then. Emotions are functional, used to express mental states to others.
Comment icon #8 Posted by redhen on 27 June, 2014, 16:21
There was a Chinese word that I could think of no Vietnamese or English equivalent to, and which I see English translations of Confucius put as "righteousness." Surely it is not seen as an emotion but as a kind of catchall for being virtuous. There is a Japanese word that is used to describe a emotion that is unique to their culture; "There is amae everywhere in the world, but it is interesting that in the Japanese language there is a concrete word to describe it, there is even a verb amaeru that means “depend on the benevolence of others”."
Comment icon #9 Posted by John Wesley Boyd on 28 June, 2014, 2:32
Most human facial and body language is universal. I remenber how Hmong children had no difficulty playing charades. That sort of silent communication is ancient.
Comment icon #10 Posted by redhen on 28 June, 2014, 2:37
Most human facial and body language is universal. It's also an old and established field of science now.
Comment icon #11 Posted by maximusnow on 30 June, 2014, 14:53
They're meant to be shared, that's we (and other animals) have then. Emotions are functional, used to express mental states to others. This could be a violation of privacy. If say to you, I am ok and you see sadness on my face, now I am a liar and you are being nosey by investigating it further. I think women communicate emotionally and men communicate factually. Examples: A Wife asks: How do you like your steak? Emotional translation = I always have to decide where we eat and if you complain about the cost, I will stab you with this fork! A Husband asks : How do you like your steak? Emotional... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Frank Merton on 30 June, 2014, 15:01
Most of us are pretty skillful at hiding our emotions, and sometimes this is best, particularly the emotion of shock at something a son or daughter tells us.


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