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Study suggests human only have four basic emotions

Human Emotions Less Complex Than Previously Thought, Study Suggests

As humans we tend to consider ourselves to be unique snowflakes, all with our own distinct feelings and emotions -- but a new study says we may not actually have that many emotions to choose from.

The research from the University of Glasgow says that humans have just four basic emotions: that's down from the six humans were believed to have.

Traditionally, those included happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, anger and sadness - but after observing reactions to faces exemplifying those emotions, researchers now say there's some overlap.

To get to their findings, researchers had participants examine computer-generated facial-animations, then categorize them into one of the six emotions.

What they found was anger and disgust, as well as fear and surprise, looked very similar to the participants at first glance - and it took a minute to discern the difference.

So, what does that tell the researchers?

According to a writer for The Atlantic, researchers surmised that humans only have four biologically-based facial signals, with additional nuances evolving in response to social cues.

She quotes the study authors who wrote, "Our data reflect that the six basic facial expressions of emotion, like languages, are likely to represent a more complex set of modern signals and categories evolved from a simpler system of communication in early man."

According to the study, that leaves us with the four basic emotions of:
1) Happiness
2) Sadness
3) Hybrids of fear and surprise
4) Hybrids of anger and disgust

Their research was published in the journal Current Biology.

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Stormypheonix February 08 2014 at 4:47 AM

I don't know about that.

Women have THOUSANDS of emotions. I'm married. Yikes.

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mebsmattress February 08 2014 at 3:18 AM

Sounds like something Arianna Huffington made up.

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mark and sheri February 08 2014 at 12:32 AM

One group of Scientists trying to say How Simple we are, look at our emotions, another Group Saying how Complicated we are, just look at our sexual activity.
Hey everyone! How about we just concentrate on how we can get along? Or isn't there enough grant money in that?

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stevebewley February 08 2014 at 12:06 AM

More bad science based on opinion and a faulty hypothesis to produce a faulty theory. That a person could not decern from a photo, the emotions of another individual does NOT mean that the emotions aren't a complacently different entity.

This is the kind of crap that passes for science today.

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HI CINDY February 08 2014 at 12:02 AM

Another thought we are reading about does not make it so.

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Brian Hope February 08 2014 at 12:02 AM

It fits. My contempt & disgust regarding Democratic stupidity & ineptness is exceeded only by my fear & loathing of Republican fanaticism & bigotry. That's why this former Reagan & elder-Bush supporter has voted straight Democrat since 1992.

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morrism462 February 07 2014 at 11:39 PM

I could be angry as hell and you wouldnt know it, so how does this make facial expressions emotions?
emotions are feelings .
facial expressions associated with emotions only happen if the person allows it to

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mcclishmd February 07 2014 at 11:36 PM

Well, using simple probability(4x4x4x4), there are 256 possible combinations of these four basic emotions, and that is not even taking into account the intensities possible.

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2 replies to mcclishmd's comment
RUTHANN February 07 2014 at 11:56 PM

IDIC...infinite diversity infinite combinations

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Brian Hope February 07 2014 at 11:59 PM

So what's the combination of happiness and anger/disgust?

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2 replies to Brian Hope's comment
mark and sheri February 08 2014 at 12:29 AM

S&M???

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Brian Hope February 08 2014 at 12:38 AM

Ehhhhhhh . . . could be.

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Melanie February 07 2014 at 10:49 PM

so maybe there are 4 main facial expressions, but that doesn't equal only 4 emotions. just because the onlooker can't SEE the emotion sure doesn't mean someone isn't feeling it. Can't believe money was wasted on such a useless study. who cares about the findings? no one

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thetreeman February 07 2014 at 8:45 PM

This is a study that is wrong. who ever paid for it wasted their money. Just because those doing the study took longer to distinguish the difference between the emotions doesn't mean the differences do not exist. So they say there are less. Maybe the researchers should not get any more grant money because they are "slow to learn" idiots,

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