Sunday, August 16, 2009

Facial Expressions Show Language Barriers,Too

Fascinating new research offers insights into how different cultures interpret facial expressions. The discovery shows that human communication of emotion is a lot more complex than experts had believed, according to the researchers led by Roberto Caldara at The University of Glasgow. As a result, facial expressions that had been considered universally recognizable cannot be used to reliably convey emotion in cross-cultural situations.
Science Daily reports:
People from East Asia tend to have a tougher time than those from European countries telling the difference between a face that looks fearful versus surprised, disgusted versus angry, and now a new report published online on August 13th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, explains why. Rather than scanning evenly across a face as Westerners do, Easterners fixate their attention on the eyes. "Westerners look at the eyes and the mouth in equal measure, whereas Easterners favor the eyes and neglect the mouth. This means that Easterners have difficulty distinguishing facial expressions that look similar around the eye region, " said Rachael E. Jack of The University of Glasgow. READ MORE