How orgasm faces differ between people from Eastern and Western cultures

Close up of hand clutching bed sheets

Enlarge / Pain or pleasure? (credit: Getty | Christopher Bernard)

In the unspoken language of love, the face you make at the pinnacle of pleasure may have something of an accent based on where you come from.

People from Western and East Asian cultures had consistently different ideas of what facial expressions indicate the moment of orgasm, researchers found in a study published Monday in PNAS. Specifically, Western participants expected widened eyes and gaping mouths, while East Asian participant’s ideas culminated in a slight, tight-lipped smile.

But contrary to those cultural climaxes, the look of dire pain had universal contortions. Participants from both cultures recognized the apex of anguish by inward-pulling facial expressions, such as lowered brows, wrinkled noses, and raised cheeks.

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