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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Literature Review: Is the Emotional Expression of Contempt Recognized Universally or Culturally?


The universal facial expression of contempt is often described as one lip corner raised and tightened. This literature reviews whether or not this expression is recognized universally. After examining theories and methods, low agreement of this expression recognized as contempt was found across cultures. Evidence so far is not sufficient enough to support the unilateral lip corner as an universal expression for contempt. The expression and recognition of contempt is highly dependent on culture and context.

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