Universal Human Commonalities (UHC)

Facial Expression of Happiness

Smiling is the universal sign of happiness. A genuine smile involves the voluntary contraction of the “zygomatic major” muscles (sides of the mouth rising) and the involuntary contraction of the “orbicularis oculi” muscles (raising of the cheeks to produce crow’s feet at the eyes). A fake smile is only due to the voluntary contraction of the zygomatic major. The brain’s motor cortex controls a fake smile, whereas genuine smiles are governed by the limbic system.

Language and Tools

Tools are utilized by humans for everything from preparing food to weaponry. Proficient tool use has been a symbol of mankind’s evolutionary progression and intelligence. A certain degree of cognition, social organization, and language are used in conjunction to make tools, use tools, and pass knowledge of tools on to future generations.

Grammatical/Word Gender

Grammatical gender, or word gender, refers to words that can be altered to conform to the gender of the person the words are describing. This is present in all languages to some degree, such as adding an 'e' to the end of the word "fiancé" to specify it is referring to a woman in the English language. Studies have been conducted to measure the effects of word gender on categorization. In one set of studies involving speakers of different languages, results indicated that the participants who were able to make use of word gender had an easier time classifying objects.

Facial Expressions and Social Exclusion

The possibility of being excluded from social relationships makes people more aware and responsive to cues signaling their potential rejection. It has been discovered that people who require higher levels of belonging are better at recognizing potential risks of exclusion in the facial expressions and vocal tones of others. These facial expressions, such as a genuine smile, act as social cues, showing connections between individuals. However, a fake smile disguises negative emotions toward an individual.

Classification of Weather

Weather is an important aspect of human life and civilization, which has been imperative to us since the dawn of our existence, as it is capable of affecting everything from agriculture to people's moods. The analysis of weather is heavily shaped by language, which helps classify weather phenomena and express occurrences of weather-related events. Research has attempted to prove that there is a correlation between types of weather events and how different languages categorize these events.

Spatial Description

Spatial cognition is the ability to observe and understand one’s environment. This ability is prevalent in all species, but humans differ in their ability to use language to express “spatial experience”. Humans use descriptive language and geometric properties to explain how the “geometric richness” of objects and places differ. For example, when an object is specifically named, many geometric properties are given in detail, such as axis, volume, and surface. However, when the object is used simply as a reference to describe a location, only directional properties are represented.

Personal Space

Personal space is known as the immediate periphery of a person, where much of his/her interactions occur. A personal space has no fixed geographic reference point, but rather follows the individual, getting larger or smaller under different conditions. The physical proximity at which people interact with one other is influenced by how well they know each other. Friends will often stand closer to each other than acquaintances or strangers would. Average interaction distances are also affected by the impersonality of the setting.


Insults are a form of aggressive language, used to aggravate and cause emotional damage to the recipients. Aggravation from insults comes in two forms: positive aggravation, which conveys that the receiving party is not liked or does not belong, and negative aggravation, which interferes with an individual’s freedom of action. The levels of negative emotion caused by these aggravations depend on the method used and the perception of the recipient. Emotional damage comes in different forms, but the various kinds of insults are all linked by their intention to harm others.


Grammar is the set of rules that determines the structure of a language. The rules of grammar apply to everything from sentence structure to conjugation of verbs. Though many languages have different grammatical rules, there may be a universal foundation for all grammar. The study of “cognitive grammar” has shown that many aspects of grammar may be linked to natural cognitive processes. Cognitive grammar “regards language as an integral facet of cognition, and grammar as being inherently meaningful”.

Facial Mimicry

Humans have the ability to cover up, or “mask,” their emotions by consciously suppressing facial expressions. One experiment attempted to observe unconscious facial reactions of participants to avoid emotional masking. They accomplished this by presenting pictures of emotional reactions for only a fraction of a second, preventing the participants from consciously processing the pictures. The results found that participants would unconsciously contort their faces to mimic emotional reactions, despite not being able to consciously process the pictures.


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