Finnish researchers have developed a body map of human emotions that is universal across cultures.

In a moment of embarrassment we have all felt that flush of warmth on our cheeks as we blush and palpitations of the heart. We know that our body physically reacts to an emotional feeling, but now a study by Finnish researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal shows that there is a universal physiological reaction to certain emotions, regardless of culture.

The researchers presented over 700 participants from Taiwan, Sweden and Finland with emotional stimuli – words, videos, facial expressions and stories – and then asked them to identify on computer silhouettes where they felt changes in their bodies. The majority of the participants would color in the same areas when feeling the same emotions – for instance, feeling a change in their chest when they experience anger – despite being from different backgrounds.

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