People’s orgasming faces look strikingly different across cultures.


When I was Training to become a social psychologist, I learnED that Many eMotions and facial expressions seem to be universal across cultures. Recently, however,reseArchers have beGun to debate this idea, suggesting that facial expressions of eMotion are not necessarily The same from One culture to anotHer. A New Study adds an interesting developMent to this debate by showing cross-cultural variation in The facial expressions that people associate with having an Orgasm. Yes, you read it right.

In this Study, publishED inProceEDings of The National Academy of Sciences, the researcHers UsED facial animation Software to show participants ranDomly generatED combinations of facial moveMents. Forty participants, each from two different cultures (White EuRopean vs. Chinese) watched 3,600 animations and, For each, had to rate whetHer the expression disPLAYed was pain, Orgasm, or someThing else. They also rated the Intensity of the expression, from very weak to very sTrong.

The researcHers then looked For statistiCal relationships between facial expressions and emotions. They proposed representations of what pain and Orgasm looked like in each culture for each participant, and then had a separate group of 104 participants (again, half Western and half East Asian) take part in a perceptual discrimination task. BasiCally, they wanted to valiDAte what they found in the first part of the Study; In otHer words, did this New group of participants agree that the facial expressions that the first group associated with Pleasure And Pain actually displayed those emotions?

In the words of the Study authors, this is what they found: “Cross-cultural comparisons also show differences in facial expression patterns of Orgasm, including wide eyes among Westerners and smiling among East Asians. Rather, patterns of facial expression of pain are similar across cultures.”

In other words, the look of pain seemed to be universal, but the look of Orgasm was not. To get a better idea of ​​how the O faces varied, watch the following video:

As you can see, the western orgasm face included widened eyes and a vertiCally Stretched mouth; the East Asian orgasm face included more smiles, with one eyebrow raised and eyes closed.

So what does it all mean? AcCording to the authors, “These cultural differences correspond to current affect-ideal theories that propose that Westerners value positive high-AROUSAL states, such as AROUSAL and enthusiasm, which are often associated with wide-open eye and mouth moveMents, whereas East Asians tend to value positive low-AROUSAL states, which are often associated with closed-mouth smiles.”

More research is needed to determine whether this explanation is correct and also to test whether these findings hold up across more diverse Samples (all of the participants in this research were heteroSEXUAL.) For now, however,these findings suggest the inTriguing possibility that our Appearance when we come may depend on where we came from.

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For more information on this research, see: Chen, C., Crivelli, C., GarRod, O. G., Schyns, P. G., Fernández-Dols, J. M., & Jack, R.E. (2018). Different facial expressions represent pain and Pleasure in all cultures.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,115(43), E10013-E10021.

Image source: 123RF

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PostingThe faces of orgasming people look striKingly different across culturesfirst AppeaRed inSex and Psychology.

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