Facial analysis software can decipher complex emotions, such as the difference between "sadly disgusted" and "fearfully angry," better than most humans can.
Researchers at Ohio State University programmed a computer to recognize facial expressions based on more than 5,000 images taken from 230 volunteers who were responding to verbal cues such as “you smell a bad odor” or “you got some unexpected news.”
For a while now, facial analysis software has been able to distinguish between the six “basic categories” of emotion—happiness, surprise, anger, sadness, fear, and disgust. If you asked me to do the same, I could probably do it. But when you drill down into complex, compound facial expressions such as “happily surprised,” “fearfully angry,” “appalled,” “hatred,” and “awed,” I’d probably blow a couple of them. This computer doesn’t. In fact, it can decipher between 21 different “complex emotions.”
Take a look at these pictures:
If one of your friends made the face for “sadly disgusted,” would you be able to tell the difference between that and “fearfully angry?” Maybe if I knew the context and hung out with the person all the time I could make a reasonable guess, but that’s all it’d be—a guess. Maybe that’s why I so often find myself asking (usually jokingly) “what’s with the face?”