Are facial expressions interpreted the same way all over the world? You may think so and for years scientists believed it to be true as well.
Several new research studies featured the April 2014 APS Observer find people from Western cultures do interpret facial expressions similarly. Emotions interpreted tend to fall into six categories, those of the classic emotions (e.g., happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, anger, or sadness). However, considerable overlap was found in the way East Asian participants categorized fear, surprise, disgust, and anger.
Of course, facial expression is only one source of information used to interpret emotions. Other emotional context cues include vocalization, body language, and emotion words. Other research has found certain cultures may rely more on one particular emotion context cue than others. For instance, Japanese focus more on vocal cues than the Dutch when interpreting emotion.
These studies are important because the results suggest individuals from different cultures may convey and perceive emotions in different ways – yet one more piece of the cultural fluency puzzle. To be most effective in our global village, knowledge of this type is key. I’ve written about cultural fluency several times before – here and here and here.
Wondering if these differences apply to emoticons as well??? 🙂
How well do you interpret emotions via facial expressions? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
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