Extreme Pain And Pleasure Produce Basically The Same Facial Expressions


Just to make your office just a liiiittle more sexually charged, the face you make when you’re having an orgasm might be interchangeable to the face you make when you get a paper cut, posits a new study out of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem that was printed in Science yesterday. Researchers showed 45 Princeton University students photos of tennis players who had just won or lost an important match. The students were divided into three groups: one looked at a full-body shot, one at only the body language, and one only at the facial expression. The last group was the only one who was unable to distinguish whether the game had been a victory or a disappointment for the tennis player, indicating that the reflections of of extreme joy and extreme anger on the human face is interchangeable when no context is provided. However, 80% of the students incorrectly believed that they could judge the players’ emotions by faces alone.

Even more interesting: researchers moved on to show students photos of close-up faces in “high-intensity situations,” e.g.

crying at funerals, winning extravagant prizes on reality TV shows, winning tennis matches, getting their nipples and ears pierced, and having orgasms.*

When confronted with these images, the subjects actually guessed that the extreme-pleasure scenarios were negative more often than the extreme-pain scenarios.

‘Read My Hips: Body Language Sometimes Louder Than Expressions’ [Wired]

*Not at the same time.

Image via Dmitrijs Dmitrijevs/Shutterstock

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