Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Forget bitchy resting; scientists have discovered the universal judgy face

the not face resting bitch face.jpg

For many of us, the struggle of bitchy resting face is real. Constantly avoided by strangers before we’ve even opened our mouths, simply because our face looks like it’s ready to sass you at all times.

Well now, scientists have discovered that when we’re expressing disagreement with something or just feeling generally ‘nah,’ we make a universal expression: the ‘not face.’

Researchers at Ohio State University conducted a series of experiments using computer technology in order to identify universal expressions. They discovered 21 distinct human facial expressions, from the vague ‘happy’ or ‘disgusted’ to the combined face: ‘happily disgusted’ (pertaining to the satisfaction we get when we watch someone popping a spot).

But the face they decided to focus on was the negative expression we make when we disagree with someone or something.

nto face

A classic 'not face.'

They chose to focus on a negative expression in order to investigate Charles Darwin’s belief that human’s ability to communicate danger or aggression was vital to our survival before the spoken word had developed. Based on Darwin’s theory, any truly universal expression should thus be easiest to identify if it were a negative one.

In order to test their hypothesis, the researchers placed 158 participants in front of digital cameras and filmed them having a conversation with someone in their native language.

When negative markers arose in conversation, the researchers were able to show which facial muscles moved, and in what way.

Every student who disagreed with topics arising in conversation created the same face.

The researchers identified a single, universal expression that can be interpreted across several cultures – in English, Spanish, Mandarin, American Sign languages – as the embodiment of negative emotion.

The look, which they have termed the ‘not’ face, consists of a furrowed brow, pursed lips and a slightly raised chin. (Imagine yourself hearing George Osbourne rationalise cuts to disabled citizens and then look in the mirror straight away, and you will see the ‘not’ face.)

the not face

The not face: Ohio State University

The study, published in the journal, Cognition, explained that our brain causes us to make the ‘not face’ as quickly as we form sentences – thus revealing it is part of our natural instinct.

Those using American Sign Language were seen to form the face sometimes instead of signing the words ‘I disagree.’

“To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that the facial expressions we use to communicate negative moral judgement have been compounded into a unique, universal part of language,” says cognitive scientist Aleix Martinez, from the Ohio State University.

“Where did language come from?” questions Martinez. This is a question that the scientific community has grappled with for a very long time.

“This study strongly suggests a link between language and facial expressions of emotion.”

Related

ThinkstockPhotos-506316888.jpg

Finally, science discovers why we get Resting Bitch Face

resting-bitch-face.jpg

Why a Resting Bitch Face means you're great at communicating

iStock_000073088015_Medium.jpg

How living like a Danish woman made me happier

ThinkstockPhotos-483053740.jpg

New study shows dogs understand human emotions

quinoa.jpg

The 20 most commonly mispronounced foreign foods

cruel-intentions.jpg

The way you kiss could reveal everything about your relationship

career ladder.jpg

How to build a blueprint for promotion

Shonda Rhimes Year or Yes YES Talk.jpg

The empowering TED talks that'll help reinvent your career personality

GettyImages-184313983.jpg

The Art of Asking: how to get people to say yes to everything you want

More

Dame Helen Mirren has her say on Ivanka and Melania Trump

She’s not one to bite her tongue

by Susan Devaney
16 Aug 2017

These are the most-searched gender-neutral baby names in the UK

Parents are increasingly leaning towards androgynous names, according to new research.

by Moya Crockett
16 Aug 2017

How to stop negative news stories impacting your mental health

14 ways to stay calm when the world’s headlines trigger your anxiety

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017

Cadbury coated Oreos are a thing and they look ridiculously good

Oreo addicts, this is essential reading

by Megan Murray
16 Aug 2017

Everything we know so far about The Handmaids Tale 2

Here’s what we can expect to happen in the second series

16 Aug 2017

Customers refuse to tip waitress after spotting her pro-LGBT tattoo

“Can’t tip someone who doesn’t love Jesus”

by Susan Devaney
16 Aug 2017

The most uplifting tweets about the Charlottesville violence

Obama's message became the most liked tweet in history

by Sarah Biddlecombe
16 Aug 2017

Game of Thrones fans, could this be Cersei’s secret son?

Read on at your own peril…

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017

Woman sparks debate after complaining about “cheap” engagement ring

How much is not enough?

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017

Sex toy reviewer is a job and it pays £28,000 (with unlimited holiday)

Get paid to do something you really love: you

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017