As someone who has been told they have a very expressive face, Ohio State University’s study on the “not face” terrifies me. According to their research the ‘not impressed’ face we make sometimes is universally recognized. Much like when you smile, when you make the “not face” people know exactly what you’re feeling. This explains why Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney’s “not face” went viral!

McKayla Maroney

The university study filmed 158 students to look for “grammatical markers” associated with the word “not.” Each student was asked to say sentences with the word “not” in their native language so see what facial expressions they made.

The results? Students whose native language is English, Mandarin, Spanish, and American Sign Language all had facial expressions associated with the word “not.”

“Language didn’t just happen instantly from nothingness,” says Aleix Martinez, a cognitive scientist and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State University. “It had to come from somewhere. This facial expression has a grammatical function. It’s a nonverbal equivalent of the word ‘not.’”

lucille bluth

“To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that the facial expressions we use to communicate negative moral judgment have been compounded into a unique, universal part of language.”

So next time you’re travelling and think no one can understand you, think again!

Image credit: Tumblr/peteneems, Tumblr/thebluths