Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

What is the opposite of fear?


Disgust. At least when it comes to the muscles on our faces, and according to a study by Joshua Susskind from the University of Toronto. As Ed Yong reports, “Susskind demonstrated the polar nature of fear and disgust by taking images of Japanese and Caucasian facial expressions from a large library. He plugged them into a well-known computer model that averaged out their features to create standard faces that epitomised different emotions. The model also worked out how the shape of these standard faces, and the way they reflect light, changes along their surface. It used this information to create the polar opposites of certain expressions – a set of ‘anti-faces’.”

That’s interesting enough, but finding that fear and disgust involve “opposite" facial expressions also suggested that what they do to our senses is opposite too. And sure enough, Susskind also found that fear "is very much about expanding features like the eyes, nostrils and mouth, while [disgust] involves scrunching these up."

One chap named Darwin, more than a century ago, had already suggested that our emotional expressions may have had a function.

Read the full post on Not Exactly Rocket Science.

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1 Comment so far

  1. […] it’s disgust, at least as far as expressions go. Interesting and very plausible note on Darwin at the end. […]

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