We have very strong intuitions about what emotions like happiness look like when displayed on other people’s faces. From childhood, we are taught these associations between facial expressions and inner emotions. Even now, we use emojis to show our feelings when text alone might fail to express our sentiment. We watch TV shows and films that zoom in on actors’ faces to give us insight into how the character is feeling. And when we see an image of a person smiling, we intuit that they are happy.
“People are consistent … if someone is smiling, they’ll rate that image as happy,” Jonathan Gratch says, “which is also why a lot of people on Facebook think everyone else is happier than they are. They see all these smiling faces and they think, ‘Oh, they must be happy.’”
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