The downwards head tilt seems to be a universal signal of dominance

One of the best-known but also most contentious ideas in psychology has to be that there are “universal” expressions of at least some human emotions. Some psychologists argue that even within the US or UK, say, facial movements that we routinely associate with certain emotions — such as a smile with feeling happy — don’t reliably match in that way. Others think that facial “expressions” are better understood as social signals. According to this model, when someone smiles, it doesn’t mean that they’re happy but rather that they want to be sociable and cooperative, while a frown doesn’t mean “I’m angry” but rather “I want you to bend to my will”. Physical social signals, beyond facial movements, have been identified, too. And now a new paper in Scientific Reports enters this field, with the claim that a downwards head-tilt is a “possibly universal” signal of dominance. Continue reading →

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