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Facial Expressions Are "Not Global"

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the look-me-in-the-mouth dept.

Communications 137

An anonymous reader sends in a BBC report on new research out of Glasgow University, which detected differences in how facial expressions are read between Westerners and East Asians. Using eye tracking, the researchers determined that "people from different cultural groups observe different parts of the face when interpreting expression. East Asians participants tended to focus on the eyes of the other person, while Western subjects took in the whole face, including the eyes and the mouth." Interestingly, the researchers point out that the emoticons used online by the two groups reflect this difference.

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They may not be (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29065963)

But bukaki facials are.

Never use open sores software (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066079)

Last night I accidentally downloaded a piece of software that I didn't realize was open sores software. After using it, I realized my penis was rotting away and I had a hankering to watch gay porn.

Re:Never use open sores software (2, Funny)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 5 years ago | (#29068811)

I don't believe that for a second. No one has had a 'hankering' for at least 40 years.

Took a PHD to figure this out? (2)

Farlan (1145095) | about 5 years ago | (#29066005)

Anyone in the MMORPG world could've summarized this!

Re:Took a PHD to figure this out? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066055)

Anyone playing a MMORPG is a tool, so they don't count.

Re:Took a PHD to figure this out? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066083)

Maybe, but anecdotal summaries aren't acceptable as evidence in scientific circles.

Besides, the article is a paper published in Current Biology, not a PhD thesis.

Re:Took a PHD to figure this out? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066359)

Not to mention it works on a considerably small sample with only 26 participants. Though it didn't mention what the stats were of the experiment itself I can't imagine the study being sound without further survey...

Re:Took a PHD to figure this out? (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about 5 years ago | (#29069413)

And non-MMORPGers could have summarized this at least one year ago
old news [scienceblogs.com]

In other news..... (3, Interesting)

nomso (591062) | about 5 years ago | (#29066009)

people are indeed different.

Indeed, the races are different. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066331)

The study is flawed in assuming that Westerners cannot be ethnically Asian. The study should properly be called a study between Whites and Asians.

Indeed, Whites and Asians are different. The reason that Asians tend to focus on the eyes is that darker skinned Asians tend not to indicate blushing wells whereas blushing is quite obvious among Whites. So, Whites focus on the whole face because blushing is starkly apparent when it occurs and because blushing is a form of communication.

For that reason, fair-skinned Japanese should be lumped into the category of Whites, not Asians. The Japanese also focus on the whole face because when a Japanese blushes, the blushing shows up clearly on his face.

Therein lies the biggest flaw in the study. It omits Africans. They are jet black and completely lack the ability to blush. I wager that Africans focus solely on the mouth because Africans tend to be violent. The motion of the mouth muscles clearly hints at thoughts of violence and warns the listener to flee.

Being jet black, Africans lack a mode of communication (i. e., blushing) which Whites and, to a lesser extent, Asians have. Africans are really very different from the rest of humanity. Evolution has dictated this difference. It is not only a difference in IQ. It is a difference in human communication -- in humanity.

Faces?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067527)

I look at women's tits and men's fists... or my iphone. Who needs faces?

Re:In other news..... (2, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 years ago | (#29067601)

In this case isn't probably about people, but about culture, don't think there is a genetic difference there. And yes, cultures are still indeed different. You need a lot of years of globalization to uniformize that behavior.

Re:In other news..... (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 5 years ago | (#29069717)

Yep.

I'd argue that it's much more diverse than "Eastern" and "Western". You can see the differences of emotional perception and demonstration/manifestation even between the (say) East Coast and Midwest of the US.

Interesting (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 5 years ago | (#29066021)

^_^

Re:Interesting (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066059)

You chink! :-)

Re:Interesting (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | about 5 years ago | (#29066073)

o_O

Re:Interesting (4, Funny)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#29066103)

Cross Culture: (.)(.)

Re:Interesting (3, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | about 5 years ago | (#29066131)

Why are those eyes downcast?

Re:Interesting (4, Funny)

Altus (1034) | about 5 years ago | (#29066163)

Gravity

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066175)

perhaps in context.

/ /( o Y o )\ \

Re:Interesting (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | about 5 years ago | (#29066697)

} )0( {

Re:Interesting (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | about 5 years ago | (#29066901)

Prefered...

( ]*[ )

or

( ]i[ )

Re:Interesting (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 5 years ago | (#29067485)

(ovo)

Re:Interesting (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 5 years ago | (#29068341)

(ovo)<^>

Re:Interesting (1)

megamerican (1073936) | about 5 years ago | (#29066161)

Cross Culture: (.)(.)

(.Y.)

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066329)

You've got pimples on your butt?

Re:Interesting (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | about 5 years ago | (#29066889)

Boobs make me angry too.

Re:Interesting (1)

arndawg (1468629) | about 5 years ago | (#29069199)

slashdot: Damnit. i spent an hour drawing this awesome ascii art of a slashdot nerd with glasses staring clueless at a hot naked ascii chick.

"Filter error: Please use fewer 'junk' characters."

Re:Interesting (1)

Reziac (43301) | about 5 years ago | (#29067345)

Pair of tits or a pair of buns? :)

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 5 years ago | (#29066109)

^_^

The interesting thing is, even though that's not a common emoticon in the west, it is pretty readily identifiable as a "happy" icon. I wonder if easterners also have automatic recognition of :-) ?

Re:Interesting (1)

northstarlarry (587987) | about 5 years ago | (#29066511)

But I wonder if that isn't because most of us in the West have seen enough Eastern-produced (I guess usually Japanese) cartoons, which come with voices and other context, that we can work it out. For me, the "happy eyes" emoticon definitely brings a generic Japanese-made cartoon face to mind, whereas the :-) is a generic bright yellow smiley face. I'm sure that both of these impressions, rather than being inherent in my facial processing, are culturally influenced.

Re:Interesting (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 5 years ago | (#29068449)

But I wonder if that isn't because most of us in the West have seen enough Eastern-produced (I guess usually Japanese) cartoons

I guess that could be the case. I've seen my fair share of anime (going all the way back to Voltron) that it could have biased what I perceived.

Re:Interesting (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | about 5 years ago | (#29066943)

What is this lousy glyph for "broken rickshaw" doing there?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066977)

No, it's not readily identifiable. To me it looks like somebody closing his eyes really tightly.

Re:Interesting (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29068793)

it is pretty readily identifiable as a "happy" icon

The only reason I recognise it is because of the similar but very exaggerated (and therefore very noticeable) expression used in anime.

Re:Interesting (1)

Alarindris (1253418) | about 5 years ago | (#29069383)

it is pretty readily identifiable as a "happy" icon

I always thought it was surprise or disappointment. It looks like a straight mouth with raised eyebrows.

Nothing to say but... (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 5 years ago | (#29066031)

:D

Re:Nothing to say but... (1)

Eudial (590661) | about 5 years ago | (#29066111)

Though, really, :-)

Is it that surprising ? (2, Interesting)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | about 5 years ago | (#29066095)

That is not really a surprising discovery. There are differences in the way people show agreement and disagreement in different areas. In fact there are interesting differences in the way people show how they liked the food in different nations and the same actions can mean entirely opposite things in different countries. I guess the implications of this discovery are interesting for robot developers and AI.

Re:Is it that surprising ? (2, Interesting)

hardburn (141468) | about 5 years ago | (#29066675)

It's interesting in that some expressions are universal due to a biological basis, but some are cultural. Previously, some anthropologists assumed they were all cultural, but this has been shown otherwise. See the work of Paul Ekman [wikipedia.org] .

Happiness or Anger? (2, Interesting)

rxan (1424721) | about 5 years ago | (#29067165)

It's interesting in that some expressions are universal due to a biological basis, but some are cultural.

Quite true.

Smiling with teeth for humans is a universal expression of happiness. Or at least near universal. But for most other mammals, showing teeth is a sign of aggression and anger.

Similar Article (Metro) (5, Interesting)

mancunian_nick (986362) | about 5 years ago | (#29066105)

In today's Metro, there's an interesting article on this same subject. When we use emoticons such as ;-), people on the other side of the world shrug their shoulders. That's because Westerners read faces differently to Eastern people experts claim. It goes on later - Whereas we tend to use the mouth to express emotions such as :-) for happy and :-( for sad, Eastern emoticons use the eyes ^.^ for happy and ;.; for sad. The findings could mean concepts of 'universal expression' of emotions are wrong - and do not take into account cultural boundaries, the experts said. Interesting but again who are these so-called experts. According to the article, only 13 Europeans and 13 people from China, Japan and Korea were asked to put a series of faces into categories such as sad and surprised. Hardly a global representation I'd have thought but then again statistics, statistics and statistics, as the saying goes. I'm sure even Mr Spock would have thought this was 'fascinating'. :)

Re:Similar Article (Metro) (3, Interesting)

the_raptor (652941) | about 5 years ago | (#29066711)

As a psychology student I can already tell you that the idea of "universal expression" only lives on in pop culture, the idea was invalidated in science a fair while ago. While it is debatable whether emotions are natural or culturally generated it is complete uncontroversial to say that expression of emotion is culturally bound.

Just look at something like Amok [wikipedia.org] in Malaysia.

Additionally there have been many studies that show a difference between how Westerners view faces and how non-Westerners do. This study is only interesting in that it puts forward an answer as to why the difference might exist. This is a major issue in psychology because so much research has used white male college students as subjects.

Re:Similar Article (Metro) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066879)

It's not just an east-west divide. I'm a Brit and I can easily spot an Irishman or a Frenchman by their body language, particularly their facial expressions.

Re:Similar Article (Metro) (1)

Estragib (945821) | about 5 years ago | (#29069211)

We'd make a good team. I'm from somewhere else and I can easily spot liars by their cock-and-bull stories, particularly etc.

Re:Similar Article (Metro) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29069919)

So you've been to France and not noticed how different their body language is? You must be one autistic motherfucker.

Re:Similar Article (Metro) (5, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | about 5 years ago | (#29066993)

As a psychology student I can already tell you that the idea of "universal expression" only lives on in pop culture, the idea was invalidated in science a fair while ago. While it is debatable whether emotions are natural or culturally generated it is complete uncontroversial to say that expression of emotion is culturally bound.

I have not personally heard this, and everything I've heard contradicts that. What is this [cornell.edu] ?

Finally, the study in the article establishes that faces are READ differently, not that people are making different facial expressions. This is a big difference from the headline being given, but that's science reporting for you.

Facial expressions are, for the most part, universal; from what I see Ekman's studies have for the most part still held up. What are you basing your claim that the idea of universal facial expressions has been "invalidated by science a fair while ago?"

Re:Similar Article (Metro) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067193)

There's not universal expression language, but I'll bet you could tell if anyone from any culture is angry with you. Outright want to kill you anger, not just upset. There are some "base" expressions and habits and such that are instinctual rather than learned, but the vast majority are learned.

running amok, aka "going postal" (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 5 years ago | (#29068639)

this is running amok:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falling_down [wikipedia.org]

in other words, running amok is nothing unique to malay culture, its just their term for it, like the americans call it going postal. all cultures have dudes who, for various reasons, external and internal, crack and start murdering left and right without apparent warning

give me any example of a behavior "unique" to a certain culture, and you can, if you are intellectualy honest, find examples of that behavior in every other culture under different names

human nature is a constant across all societies and all time

Re:Similar Article (Metro) (1)

tsstahl (812393) | about 5 years ago | (#29069147)

This is a major issue in psychology because so much research has used white male college students as subjects.

They should quit paying participants with cheap beer to attract a more diverse pool of rats.

Re:Similar Article (Metro) (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 5 years ago | (#29068247)

>>According to the article, only 13 Europeans and 13 people from China, Japan and Korea were asked to put a series of faces into categories such as sad and surprised

Oh, social science. What *can't* you prove?

all look same (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066139)

That's because East Asian faces all look the same [alllooksame.com] . Duh.

I don't buy it (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066165)

In order to convince me, they'd have to find that East Asians form expressions with just their eyes that other East Asians can pick up more easily than Westerners. It makes no sense that East Asians can't read each other's facial expressions.

Re:I don't buy it (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 years ago | (#29067207)

I also don't buy it. Westerners instantly recognize ^_^ as a smile, even if they don't think of the eyes an the most important part of a smile. "smiling eyes" are a well known facial expression.

Re:I don't buy it (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 5 years ago | (#29067291)

Also "twinkle in his eye," or "sad eyes," or "making eyes," or "flirting eyes" ....

Re:I don't buy it (1)

princessproton (1362559) | about 5 years ago | (#29068383)

In fact it is the crinkling of the eyes are what differentiates a genuine smile, also known as a Duchenne smile [wikipedia.org] , from a fake smile. The presence of subtle and involuntary muscle movements is a vital (if subconscious) aspect to correctly interpreting body language and facial expressions (Incidentally, this loss of subtle muscle expressions is also [part of] what makes Botox abusers look more fake and disingenuous.)

This is not news... (2, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | about 5 years ago | (#29066217)

The exact thing has been written in many of the "manga" technique books or books comparing eastern and western comics I've read.

Misleading title (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29066243)

The title of the summary says that facial expressions are not global, but the summary says that the way people read facial expressions varies in different geographical areas. A more interesting test would be how accurate people from East Asia are at reading the facial expressions of Westerners and vice versa.

Re:Misleading title (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | about 5 years ago | (#29066507)

The article answers that question -- the Easterners tested (a whopping sample of 13 people) tended to identify expressions as less-socially-threatening alternatives. So, surprise instead of fear or disgust, for example.

Re:Misleading title (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 5 years ago | (#29066771)

So, according to the contents of the article, the title of the article is wrong. If East Asians misread fear as surprise, it means that the expression of fear is universal, but East Asians (at least those in this study) don't read the signs that separate fear from surprise. This study fails to tell us anything we didn't know.
If the sample size had been larger, the conclusions of this study might have had some value. The only value this study might have is as a test of methodology(using eye movement trackers to record where the subject is looking). However, I believe there have been several studies recently using this type of methodology, so I don't see the real use even for that.

Re:Misleading title (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | about 5 years ago | (#29067495)

So, surprise instead of fear or disgust, for example.

There was a blurb in an issue of Scientific American, and they found an impression bias among democrats and republicans by using the image of a man sufficiently blurred to look either surprised (or was it confused?) or angry. Democrats more often saw the confused face, republicans saw the anger.

Lie To Me? (1)

electricprof (1410233) | about 5 years ago | (#29066261)

I wonder if this has any impact on "lie detection" approach of reading very short-lived transient expressions. Are these global?

Re:Lie To Me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066499)

Only if Wikipedia says so.

Re:Lie To Me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29069039)

The article says (near the end) that expressions are indeed global. The *way* in which they are read is not. Westerners look at the mouth, easterners at the eyes. Since surprise and fear are about the same around the eyes, easterners confuse them easily.

A difference, you say? (5, Funny)

Wireless Joe (604314) | about 5 years ago | (#29066303)

At first I was (:^O)

but then I \(^o^)/

Re:A difference, you say? (2, Funny)

Bemopolis (698691) | about 5 years ago | (#29067343)

You used to be a snowman, but now you're a clown?

Re:A difference, you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068079)

A clown? I see the snowman but not the clown. I thought he turned into a bird flapping his wings on the second one.
Here's a clown: :O)

Re:A difference, you say? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 years ago | (#29068927)

No, he first had a bicycle helmet on, but then switched it for putting earmuffs on his bat.

Re:A difference, you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067619)

You deepthroughted, then did naked jumping jacks?

I had a completely different response to the article...

Re:A difference, you say? (1)

nacturation (646836) | about 5 years ago | (#29069187)

At first I was (:^O)

but then I \(^o^)/

You moved from Facebook to Twitter?

Tracking and expression aren't the same thing (5, Informative)

wytcld (179112) | about 5 years ago | (#29066389)

This is about differences in how cultures track expressions, not in the expressions themselves. There's long been solid evidence that basic facial expressions are universal across human cultures, in their natural form. So if you're really smiling, it's the same muscles involved in much the same way, no matter what culture you're in. However, people also pretend to smile when it's not real. It's long been know that counterfeit expressions don't use all the same muscles, or the same overall pattern. People can be trained to spot this difference quite effectively.

Now, with this recent research showing that different cultures monitor expressions differently, this implies that good counterfeiting is going to be specific to which monitoring patterns it is trying to fool. That would be interesting research. It should show, for instance, that people are better at counterfeiting expressions to other people from their same culture. People from another culture should be better at seeing through your counterfeit expressions than people from your own culture, if that other culture focuses on different parts of the face than yours.

That cultures would focus differently fits with the extensive research on "joint attention." From infancy, we're wired to look at what we see other people looking at. We're very, very good a adopting the perceptual patterns of those around us, at a level that's almost automatic.

But contra the broad claim here, genuine emotions expressed through facial expressions are not culture-specific, but universal to humanity, essentially genetic.

Re:Tracking and expression aren't the same thing (2, Interesting)

readin (838620) | about 5 years ago | (#29067133)

It raises the question of whether the researches were using pictures of people who were genuinely angry, surprised, sad, etc., or pictures of people who were pretending to be those things. It also makes me wonder where were the people from who were pictured in the images.

Re:Tracking and expression aren't the same thing (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#29067455)

This is about differences in how cultures track expressions, not in the expressions themselves. There's long been solid evidence that basic facial expressions are universal across human cultures, in their natural form.

Yes, but it's not just tracking, it's usage of expressions as you allude to. Do not think that because a Japanese man is smiling at you that he is expressing happiness. He could just as easily be expressing anger or sadness. It's similar to the way the Japanese avoid saying "no." "Yes" in Japanese is "hai" (pronounced somewhat like "Hi" in english.) A short "hai" might not indicate agreement, but simply acknowledgement much like we use 'Okay." A medium "hai" will indicate agreement, but a long drawn-out "hai" in a low-tone almost certainly means "no." This is somewhat (but not totally) similar to the American usage of "yeeesssssss, but..." Alternatively, the Japanese may audibly suck air through their teeth. Anyway, smiling is a lot like that.

(Note that I once spent several months working at a predominately Japanese company)

Re:Tracking and expression aren't the same thing (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | about 5 years ago | (#29067499)

What I don't understand is why didn't they use the perfect control group? Blind people.

The same way they know that many songbirds have a language and apes don't is that a deaf songbird will not sing the same way as its parents, whereas a normal songbird will. Apes, however, make the same grunting whether deaf or not.

Ask a few blind people, cross-culturally, to make expressions depicting puzzlement, concern, frustration, fatigue, pride, lust etc -- things a little more complex than a smile, frown, or laugh. Many (if not most) blind people have been acquainted with facial expressions, through touch, so finding blind people in cultures who tend to cast out their disabled and exclude them from education would probably show the least-skewed results.

It would be fascinating to see such an experiment -- considering our pets often make the same facial expressions (a dog will turn its head with thinking or confused, while we tend to twist up our faces) -- are we mimicking them, or is it something that we actually do on our own -- and then the next question: Why?

Massive Sample Size (1)

bencollier (1156337) | about 5 years ago | (#29066421)

This extraordinary conclusion reached with two groups of 13 people, one East Asian, the other Western. Well, that's that settled then.

There are Six (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | about 5 years ago | (#29066541)

ANGER. FEAR. SURPRISE. SADNESS. JOY. DISGUST.

These six emotional responses produce identical facial expressions globally, including interactions of these (surprise + joy at a gift opening, frinstance), as long as that's the only input. Anything more, and the facial expression as well as interpretation of it (say, pride mixed in since the gift was from your child who made it by hand being mixed with the other two), is open to cultural differences.

That was a single paragraph summary of facial expressions, global or not. It was old when I learned it in undergrad psych. TFA has nothing to do with facial expressions. It has to do with face scanning. It has nothing to say about facial expressions other than as the object being observed, and so has nothing to say on whether any are global or not.

Re:There are Six (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#29067977)

Wut? Where is "intrigued" or "dubious" in all of this?

ah, the inscrutable asian and the volatile gaijin (3, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 5 years ago | (#29066567)

http://www.csupomona.edu/~tassi/gestures.htm [csupomona.edu]

mutual incomprehensibility

Re:ah, the inscrutable asian and the volatile gaij (0, Offtopic)

RhadamanthosIsChaos (857646) | about 5 years ago | (#29067001)

mutual incomprehensibility

I'll say. That site is the least comprehensible shade of yellow I think I can imagine.

Duh? (1, Interesting)

The Slowest Zombie (1591627) | about 5 years ago | (#29066597)

Take a look at Japanese animation (google image search "animne") and compare it to the comics in most American newspapers. Notice any differences? (hint: Anime eyes are huge!) Local artists know what to exploit. To the East it's the eyes. That hasn't caught on so much in America because we look at the whole face and are distracted when features aren't proportionate.

Re:Duh? (0)

Yosho (135835) | about 5 years ago | (#29066763)

Yes, anime is incredibly disproportionate [photobucket.com] compared to American comics [foxtrot.com] .

Are you serious?

Re:Duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067315)

Yes, he's serious. I think YOU need to put aside the weeaboo-ism and look at TYPICAL examples, rather than two obscure extrema that reinforce your own opinion.

Bad examples... (3, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | about 5 years ago | (#29067347)

Comparing caricatures with realistic depiction of humans? Come on... That ain't even a proper straw-man.

Try these instead:

Japanse Spiderman manga [dtaweb.com] vs. American Spiderman Comic. [flickr.com]

Note how lips, nostrils and ears are generally [dtaweb.com] unarticulated (particularly noses and ears that often are not present at all, or are just hinted) and how much more detailed american [blogspot.com] (comic) faces are.
On the other hand... manga artists attribute much greater attention to eyes and hair.

You can tell the character by his/her eyes immediately.
Bigger and more detailed the eyes - more innocent the character. Slits with a tiny dot for a pupil - evil fucker.

Re:Bad examples... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29069935)

Brock (from Pokemon) was pretty damn evil then.

We only saw him lust after Officer Jenny(s) and Nurse Joy(s), but we never saw what he did off screen.

co-author site (3, Informative)

mzs (595629) | about 5 years ago | (#29066713)

Here is the site of one of the co-authors:

http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/staff/index.php?id=RJ002 [gla.ac.uk]

The article in question is not quite published yet:

Jack, R. E., Blais, C., Scheepers, C., Schyns, P. G., & Caldara, R. (in press) Cultural Confusions Show Facial Expressions are Not Universal Current Biology

Here is an earlier one using the same methodologies (PDF):

http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/docs/download.php?type=PUBLS&id=1404 [gla.ac.uk]

It is about where western and eastern people look at faces using eye tracking when for example learning or recognizing a face. There were some subtle differences.

Bad title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29066725)

The study is about how different people focus on different parts of the face. That doesn't have anything to do with which facial expressions relate to what thoughts/emotions.

It's bunk. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#29066915)

There are two facial expressions that have the same universal meaning in every culture, expressed with the emotions of joy and disgust. Everything else has a cultural-context to varying degrees, but if you eat something that tastes horrible -- that face you make will be understood by anyone.

oh really? (-1, Troll)

chode8 (1594993) | about 5 years ago | (#29066951)

"East Asians participants tended to focus on the eyes of the other person" oh really chinamen focus more on the feature that only opens 3/4 of the way? they could use floss to blindfold themselves. a little andrew dice clay there. but seriously this is no surprise. americans put a overwhelming amount of attention to smiling. Smiling in other parts of the world often means you're lying.

Posting to undo inadvertent mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067267)

Cat got your tongue? (something important seems to be missing from your comment ... like the body or the subject!)

So we should nuke them then? (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#29067543)

See, they aren't like us, after all. Probably not even the same type of insect. We butterflies must not let the moths prevail. Ready the nuclear cannons, and prepare for the ultimate war!

Anyone worked with Indians? (2, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 5 years ago | (#29067579)

They way they shake their heads when saying yes completely fucks with my mind every time!

Re:Anyone worked with Indians? (1)

Maniacal (12626) | about 5 years ago | (#29067737)

I was going to post about this. It took me a long time to get used to that. My first experience was years back working with an Indian Oracle developer. I would be trying to explain something to him and he would be shaking his head and it would make me nuts. I would stop talking and ask what he didn't agree with. I could remember it for the rest of that conversation but later that day or the next day it would happen again and I'd just forget. I was never able to get comfortable with it. I recently started working for a company that has a bunch of Indian developers so I'm expecting it but haven't seen it yet.

Definitions (3, Insightful)

readin (838620) | about 5 years ago | (#29067653)

The article did not address the questions of definitions. Do we define words like "fear" and "surprise" the same way? Fear and surprise can be related - and where does shock fit in? Perhaps its not just a question of interpreting the emotions differently, but also an issue of applying different words to the same emotion. I see a shocked expression, but I have to assign it a value of "fear" or "surprise" - even if I have a perfect empathy for the emotion expressed in the picture, the word I choose will depend on how I've seen that word used in the past.

Given that the test was given to people from different backgrounds, they likely grew up speaking different languages. Even though presumably the East Asian subjects may have learned English, their understandings of some English words may be based on translations of their native words, and the words may not be exact matches.

One might suggest that this problem can be dodged by asking the subjects for a suggested physical response rather than for a word. Instead of "Is this person feeling 'fear' or 'surprise'" you might ask "Is this person thinking of running away or is this person thinking that he didn't expect what just happened" but even then cultural expectations about behavior would play a heavy role.

Anime Eyes (2, Insightful)

NealBScott (1168201) | about 5 years ago | (#29068127)

So maybe there really *is* a reason that Japanese Anime is drawn with such large eyes.

Re:Anime Eyes (1)

genner (694963) | about 5 years ago | (#29068945)

So maybe there really *is* a reason that Japanese Anime is drawn with such large eyes.

Yes it's because Disney did it first when they made Bambi.

smilies (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068231)

My favorite is when I receive emails from Office Managers or non informed employees who have smiley programs installed and think that everyone can see their smilies that I receive as a capital letter 'J'

Re:smilies (1)

MLease (652529) | about 5 years ago | (#29069059)

I was wondering where those Js were coming from! I'd recently noticed them popping up in emails from people, where a smiley emoticon was clearly intended (given the tone of the preceding comment). I thought maybe someone decided a J looked like a smile of some sort, but I thought it just looked dumb.

-Mike

Irrelevant sample (1)

cbraescu1 (180267) | about 5 years ago | (#29068337)

13 + 13 people? And results from such utterly irrelevant sample are supposed to make news?

Yeah, Slashdot, 'stuff that matters" indeed.

I want to see a follow up (1)

bmcnally (1333283) | about 5 years ago | (#29069699)

One study that I want to see done, that is in the same spirit as this one, is to figure out what features people from different cultures focus on when identifying a person. While this study shows that Asians tend to focus on the eyes and Westerners look at the face holistically, I wonder if that ports to person identification. Might shed some light on the "You all look the same" comments from both sides.
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