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The Three Big Myths About Emotions, Gender and Brains

Lisa Feldman Barrett | 17:35


 So science, one of the things that science is for is for dispelling myths about how the world works. So for example, we used to believe that the earth, um, that the sun revolved around the earth. We used to believe that the earth was flat. Um, it turns out that many of our most basic beliefs about emotion also turn out to be myths.

And so today we're going to take on, um, three of these. Uh, and, uh, and dispel them. And the first is that emotions are displayed on the face with expressions that we all recognize. So the idea is that we're supposed to smile when we're happy. We're supposed to scowl when we're angry. We're supposed to frown when we're.

And for many years scientists believed that everyone in the world would express emotion in exactly the same way. So we would all scowl when we were angry and we would all recognize a scowl as anger everywhere around the world.

So have a look at this face, right? When I ask audiences, well, how does this person feel? They'll say, oh, she feels sad. Um, maybe she feels grieved. Um, she might be feeling fatigue. Actually, this is my daughter Sophia. Um, having what I can only describe as a profound experience of pleasure, , and this little sweetie is also having a profound experience of pleasure, right?

What this demonstrates to you is what hundreds of experiments have also now shown, which is that exactly the same emotion can be expressed with very different sets of facial. Now this face, when I ask audiences, well, how does she feel? People say she's, she's in terror or she's in pain. This is actually a photograph of Serena Williams after she beat her sister Venus, uh, in the US Open a couple of years ago.

The reason why her face looks as if it is displaying terror when we don't have any context is that in fact, this face is made in terror. So not only is it the. That different express, different, uh, facial movements express the same emotion. It's also the case that the same face expresses different emotions.

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