Presented by University of Glasgow


Hands-on at this exhibit

  • Add your face to help create the ‘average’ face of the Exhibition.
  • Create a 3D version of your face.
  • Visualise the facial differences between groups.


Computer-graphic techniques reveal that people from different cultures interpret facial expressions differently.

Curious about how the information hidden in people's faces can be revealed? Watch the Face facts video.

It was thought that emotional expressions are universal. However, our work shows that people from diverse cultures have different expectations about how facial expressions of emotion should look. Our exhibit highlights how sophisticated computer graphics can be used to help us understand the communication of emotion within and between cultures.

We have developed a technique called ‘Generative Face Grammar’ to explore perception of facial expressions, social traits and mental states. Our computer-graphic faces can manipulate their facial characteristics and move facial muscles. By asking people from different cultures to look at different combinations of face movements and identify which combinations represent emotions, traits and mental states, we find cultural differences in how facial characteristics communicate information. For example, we discovered that East Asians are more likely than Westerners to expect the eyes to show emotional signals.

Lead image: Computer graphics reveal how facial expressions are interpreted differently between cultures.