Not Face
Researchers at The Ohio State University have identified a single, universal facial expression that is interpreted across many cultures as the embodiment of negative emotion. The look proved identical for native speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language (ASL). It consists of a furrowed brow, pressed lips and raised chin, and because we make it when we convey negative sentiments, such as “I do not agree,” researchers are calling it the “not face.” Ohio State University

There is a reason for the resting bitch face outside showing dislike or distaste for an object or a person. Also called “not face,” researchers say it is a single, universal facial expression seen across many cultures as an expression of a negative emotion.

It is an identical look for native speakers of English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and American Sign Language made up of a furrowed brow, pressed lip and raised chin. It is made to send the message across that “I do not agree,” say researchers at Ohio State University who published the result of their study in the Cognition journal.

To form the resting bitch face, people contract their facial muscles at the same frequency when they speak or sign words in a sentence. It is an instinctive reaction that comprise part of man’s signed or spoken language. In the case of sign language users, they use the “not face” rather that sign the word “not.”

It took the scientific community a long time to understand the language of the “not face,” says Aleix Martinez, cognitive scientist at the university. “To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that the facial expressions we use to communicate negative moral judgment have been compounded into a unique, universal language,” adds the professor of electrical and computer engineering.

In the study, the researchers asked 184 students of the university to reply to questions in the four languages, which are the language they considered their native tongue. After each question, the students, by instinct, contort their faces to show anger, contempt or disgust. An example of the question is: “A study shows that tuition would increase 30 percent. What do you think?” quotes SBS.

While the study finds the “not face” cross-cultural, it was most felt among users of the sign language who tend to act out their emotions and show exaggerated movements to communicate what they were thinking.

The scientists previously used 21 distinct emotional expressions, but found that complex expressions are combinations of basic emotions. Martinez cites “happy” and “disgusted” which could be mixed into “happily disgusted.” With the new study, they believe that instead of a universal “not face,” it combined three basic facial expressions to show anger, contempt and disgust, or moral disagreement.