Emotion 2007, Vol. 7, No. 1, 131–146
Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association 1528-3542/07/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1528-3518.104.22.168
Toward a Dialect Theory: Cultural Differences in the Expression and Recognition of Posed Facial Expressions Hillary Anger Elfenbein
University of California, Berkeley
Martin Beaupre ´
University of Quebec at Montreal
Manon Levesque ´
Omar Bongo University
University of Quebec at Montreal
Two studies provided direct support for a recently proposed dialect theory of communicating emotion, positing that expressive displays show cultural variations similar to linguistic dialects, thereby decreasing accurate recognition by out-group members. In Study 1, 60 participants from Quebec and Gabon posed facial expressions. Dialects, in the form of activating different muscles for the same expressions, emerged most clearly for serenity, shame, and contempt and also for anger, sadness, surprise, and happiness, but not for fear, disgust, or embarrassment. In Study 2, Quebecois and Gabonese participants judged these stimuli and stimuli standardized to erase cultural dialects. As predicted, an in-group advantage emerged for nonstandardized expressions only and most strongly for expressions with greater regional dialects, according to Study 1. Keywords: emotion, expression, recognition, dialects, in-group advantage
An enduring question in the study of emotional facial expressions is the extent to which these expressions are universal (e.g., Darwin, 1872/1965) versus culturally determined. A considerable body of research supports the conclusion that the expression of emotion is largely universal and biologically evolved, for example, through similarities between human and nonhuman emotional expressions (e.g., Chevalier-Skolnikoff, 1973; Darwin, 1872/1965; Redican, 1982) and the mutual recognition of emotional signals across species boundaries (e.g., Itakura, 1994; Linnankoski, Laasko, & Leinonen, 1994). Across cultures, classic studies by Ekman, Izard, and their colleagues (Ekman, 1972, 1994; Ekman et al., 1987; Izard, 1971) have demonstrated that displays of basic emotions are well recognized even across cultures that have relatively little contact with each other. This view contrasts with perspectives viewing emotional behavior as determined com-
pletely by cultural influences on social prescriptions (e.g., Lutz & White, 1986; Wierzbicka, 1994). Many approaches take an intermediate position (e.g., Ekman, 1972; Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, & Nisbett, 1998; Fridlund, 1994; Mesquita, Frijda, & Scherer, 1997; Rosenthal, Hall, DiMatteo, Rogers, & Archer, 1979), acknowledging both universals and cultural variations in the expression and recognition of emotion. The current article focuses on one such intermediate perspective: the dialect theory of communicating emotion. Dialect theory proposes the presence of cultural differences in the use of cues for emotional expression that are subtle enough to allow accurate communication across cultural boundaries in general, yet substantive enough to result in a potential for miscommunication (Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002b, 2003).
Elaborating the Dialect Theory
In linguistics, dialects are the variants or varieties of a language used by different speakers who are separated by geographic or social boundaries (Francis, 1992; Romaine, 1994). Although there is an old adage that a language is simply a dialect with its own army and navy (Fasold, 1984)—suggesting a sometimes arbitrary distinction between the two concepts—linguists argue that dialects but not languages should allow basic mutual comprehension (O’Grady, Archibald, Aronoff, & Rees-Miller, 2001). Accordingly, the dialect theory of communicating emotion argues that the language of emotion is universal. As with other languages, different cultures can express themselves in different dialects, which is the first proposition of dialect theory. The second proposition is that the...
References: Bavelas, J. B., Black, A., Lemery, C. R., & Mullett, J. (1986). “I show how you feel”: Motor mimicry as a communicative act. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 322–329. Beaupre, M. G., & Hess, U. (2005). Cross-cultural emotion recognition ´ among Canadian ethnic groups. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 36, 355–370. Biehl, M., Matsumoto, D., Ekman, P., Hearn, V., Heider, K., Kudoh, T., & Ton, V. (1997). Matsumoto and Ekman’s Japanese and Caucasian Facial Expressions of Emotion (JACFEE): Reliability data and cross-national differences. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 21, 3–21. Buck, R. (1984). The communication of emotion. New York: Guilford Press. Buhler, K. (1934). Sprachtheorie [Language theory.] Jena, Germany: ¨ Fischer. Burquest, D. A., & Payne, D. L. (1993). Phonological analysis: A functional approach. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics. Camras, L. A., Oster, H., Campos, J. J., Miyake, K., & Bradshaw. (1997). Japanese and American infants’ responses to arm restraint. In P. Ekman & E. L. Rosenberg (Eds.), What the face reveals: Basic and applied studies of spontaneous expression using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) (pp. 289 –301). New York: Oxford University Press. Chevalier-Skolnikoff, S. (1973). Facial expression of emotion in nonhuman primates. In P. Ekman (Ed.), Darwin and facial expression (pp. 11– 83). New York: Academic Press. Darwin, C. (1965). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1872) Ekman, P. (1972). Universals and cultural differences in facial expressions of emotion. In J. K. Cole (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation: Vol. 19 (pp. 207–283). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Ekman, P. (1979). About brows: Emotional and conversational signs. In M. Von Cranach, K. Foppa, W. Lepenies, & D. Ploog (Eds.), Human ethology (pp. 169 –249). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Ekman, P. (1992). An argument for basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 6, 169 –200. Ekman, P. (1994). Strong evidence for universals in facial expressions: A reply to Russell’s mistaken critique. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 268 – 287. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1976). Pictures of facial affect [Slides]. San Francisco: Department of Psychology, San Francisco State University. Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. V. (1978). Facial Action Coding System: A technique for the measurement of facial movement. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. Ekman, P., Friesen, W. V., O’Sullivan, M., Chan, A., DiacoyanniTarlatzis, I., Heider, K., et al. (1987). Universals and cultural differences in the judgements of facial expressions of emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 712–717. Ekman, P., Friesen, W. V., & Simons, R. C. (1985). Is the startle reaction an emotion? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 1416 – 1426. Ekman, P., Sorensen, E. R., & Friesen, W. V. (1969, April 4). Pancultural elements in facial displays of emotions. Science, 164, 86 – 88. Elfenbein, H. A. (2006). Learning in emotion judgments: Training and the
cross-cultural understanding of facial expressions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 30, 21–36. Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2002a). Is there an in-group advantage in emotion? Psychological Bulletin, 128, 243–249. Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2002b). On the universality and cultural specificity of emotion recognition: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 203–235. Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2003). When familiarity breeds accuracy: Cultural exposure and facial emotion recognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 276 –290. Elfenbein, H. A., Mandal, M. K., Ambady, N., Harizuka, S., & Kumar, S. (2002). Cross-cultural patterns in emotion recognition: Highlighting design and analytical techniques. Emotion, 2, 75– 84. Fasold, R. (1984.) The sociolinguistics of society. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell. Fiske, A. P., Kitayama, S., Markus, H. R., & Nisbett, R. E. (1998). The cultural matrix of social psychology. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 915–981). Boston: McGraw-Hill. Francis, W. N. (1992). Dialectology. In W. Bright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of linguistics (pp. 349 –355). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. Frank, M. G., & Stennett, J. (2001). The forced-choice paradigm and the perception of facial expressions of emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 75– 85. Fridlund, A. J. (1994). Human facial expression: An evolutionary view. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Galati, D., Scherer, K. R., & Ricci-Bitti, P. E. (1997). Voluntary facial expressions of emotion: Comparing congenitally blind with normal sighted encoders. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1363–1379. Hall, J. A. (1978). Gender effects in decoding nonverbal cues. Psychological Bulletin, 85, 845– 857. Hall, J. A. (1984). Nonverbal sex differences: Accuracy of communication and expressive style. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Hess, U., Banse, R., & Kappas, A. (1995). The intensity of facial expression is determined by underlying affective state and social situation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 280 –288. Hess, U., Blairy, S., & Kleck, R. E. (2000). The influence of expression intensity, gender, and ethnicity on judgments of dominance and affiliation. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 24, 265–283. Hess, U., Senecal, S., & Kirouac, G. (1996). Recognizing emotional facial ´ expressions: Does perceived sociolinguistic group make a difference? International Journal of Psychology, 31, 3– 4. Hess, U., Senecal, S., Kirouac, G., Herrera, P., Philippot, P., & Kleck, R. E. ´ (2000). Emotional expressivity in men and women: Stereotypes and self-perceptions. Cognition and Emotion, 14, 609 – 642. Horstmann, G. (2002). Facial expressions of emotion: Does the prototype represent central tendency, frequency of instantiation, or an ideal? Emotion, 2, 297–305. Itakura, S. (1994). Differentiated responses to different human conditions in chimpanzees. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 79, 1288 –1290. Izard, C. E. (1971). The face of emotion. New York: Appleton-CenturyCrofts. Izard, C. E., & Haynes, O. M. (1988). On the form and universality of the contempt expression: A challenge to Ekman and Friesen’s claim of discovery. Motivation and Emotion, 12, 1–22. Jakobs, E., Manstead, A. S. R., & Fischer, A. H. (2001). Social context effects on facial activity in a negative emotional setting. Emotion, 1, 51– 69. Keltner, D. (1995). Signs of appeasement: Evidence for the distinct displays of embarrassment, amusement, and shame. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 441– 454.
´ ´ ELFENBEIN, BEAUPRE, LEVESQUE, AND HESS Pope, L. K., & Smith, C. A. (1994). On the distinct meanings of smiles and frowns. Cognition and Emotion, 8, 65–72. Redican, W. K. (1982). An evolutionary perspective on human facial displays. In P. Ekman (Ed.), Emotion in the human face (2nd ed., pp. 212–280). Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press. Ricci Bitti, P. E., Brighetti, G., Garotti, P. L., & Boggi-Cavallo, P. (1989). Is contempt expressed by pancultural facial movements? In J. P. Forgas & J. M. Innes (Eds.), Recent advances in social psychology: An international perspective (pp. 329 –339). Amsterdam: Elsevier. Rinn, W. E. (1984). The neuropsychology of facial expression: A review of the neurological and psychological mechanisms for producing facial expressions. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 52–77. Romaine, S. (1994). Dialect and dialectology. In R. E. Asher & J. M. Y. Simpson (Eds.), The encyclopedia of language and linguistics (pp. 900 –907). Oxford, England: Pergamon Press. Rosenthal, R., Hall, J. A., DiMatteo, M. R., Rogers, P. L., & Archer, D. (1979). Sensitivity to nonverbal communication: The PONS Test. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Rosenthal, R., & Rosnow, R. L. (1991). Essentials of behavioral research: Methods and data analysis (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Russell, J. A. (1991). Negative results on a reported facial expression of contempt. Motivation and Emotion, 15, 285–292. Russell, J. A. (1994). Is there universal recognition of emotion from facial expression? A review of the cross-cultural studies. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 102–141. Scherer, K. R. (1999). Appraisal theory. In T. Dalgleish & M. J. Power (Eds.), Handbook of cognition and emotion (pp. 637– 663). Chichester, England: Wiley. Scherer, K. R. (2001). Appraisal considered as a process of multilevel sequential checking. In K. Scherer, A. Schorr & T. Johnston (Eds.), Appraisal processes in emotions: Theory, methods, research (pp. 92– 120). New York: Oxford University Press. Scherer, K. R., Banse, R., & Wallbott, H. (2001). Emotion inferences from vocal expression correlate across languages and cultures. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 32, 76 –92. Sorensen, E. R. (1975). Culture and the expression of emotion. In T. R. Williams (Ed.), Psychological anthropology (pp. 361–372). Chicago: Aldine. Suissa, S., & Shuster, J. (1985). Exact unconditional sample sizes for the 2 2 binomial trial. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 148, 317–327. Thibault, P., Bourgeois, P., & Hess, U. (2006). The effect of groupidentification on emotion recognition: The case of cats and basketball players. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 676 – 683. Tomkins, S. S., & McCarter, R. (1964). What and where are the primary affects: Some evidence for a theory. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 18, 119 –158. Wierzbicka, A. (1994). Emotion, language, and cultural scripts. In S. Kitayama & H. R. Markus (Eds.), Emotion and culture: Empirical studies of mutual influence. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Wiggers, M. (1982). Judgements of facial expressions of emotions predicted from facial behavior. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 7, 101–116.
Keltner, D., & Buswell, B. N. (1997). Embarrassment: Its distinct form and appeasement functions. Psychological Bulletin, 122, 250 –270. Kilbride, J. E., & Yarczower, M. (1983). Ethnic bias in the recognition of facial expressions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 8, 27– 41. Kirouac, G., & Dore, F. Y. (1985). Accuracy of the judgments of facial ´ expression of emotions as a function of sex and level of education. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 9, 3–7. Kirouac, G., & Hess, U. (1999). Group membership and the decoding of nonverbal behavior. In P. Philippot, R. Feldman, & E. Coats (Eds.), The social context of nonverbal behavior (pp. 182–210). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Knutson, B. (1996). Facial expressions of emotion influence interpersonal trait inferences. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 20, 165–182. Linnankoski, I., Laasko, M. L., & Leinonen, L. (1994). Recognition of emotions in macaque vocalizations by children and adults. Language and Communication, 14, 183–192. Lutz, C., & White, G. M. (1986). The anthropology of emotions. Annual Review of Anthropology, 15, 405– 436. Mandal, M. K., Bryden, M. P., & Bulman-Fleming, M. B. (1996). Similarities and variations in facial expressions of emotion: Cross-cultural evidence. International Journal of Psychology, 31, 49 –58. Markham, R., & Wang, L. (1996). Recognition of emotion by Chinese and Australian children. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 27, 616 – 643. Marsh, A. A., Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2003). Nonverbal “accents”: Cultural differences in facial expressions of emotion. Psychological Science, 14, 373–376. Matsumoto, D. (1989). Cultural influences on the perception of emotion. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 20, 92–105. Matsumoto, D. (1992). More evidence for the universality of a contempt expression. Motivation and Emotion, 16, 363–368. Matsumoto, D. (2002). Methodological requirements to test a possible in-group advantage in judging emotions across cultures: Comments on Elfenbein and Ambady (2002) and evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 236 –242. Matsumoto, D. (in press). Apples and oranges: Methodological requirements for testing a possible ingroup advantage in emotion judgments from facial expressions. In U. Hess & P. Philippot (Eds.), Group dynamics and emotional expression. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Matsumoto, D., & Assar, M. (1992). The effects of language on judgments of universal facial expressions of emotion. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 16, 85–99. Mesquita, B., & Frijda, N. H. (1992). Cultural variations in emotions: A review. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 197–204. Mesquita, B., Frijda, N. H., & Scherer, K. R. (1997). Culture and emotion. In J. W. Berry, P. R. Dasen, & T. S. Saraswathi (Eds.), Handbook of cross-cultural psychology: Vol. 2: Basic processes and human development (2nd ed., pp. 255–297). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Motley, M. T. (1993). Facial affect and verbal context in conversation: Facial expression as interjection. Human Communication Research, 20, 3– 40. O’Grady, W., Archibald, J., Aronoff, M., & Rees-Miller, J. (2001). Contemporary linguistics (4th ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. Petit Robert. (2004). Dictionnaire de la langue Francaise [Dictionary of the French language]. Paris: Distribooks.
Received December 23, 2005 Revision received June 8, 2006 Accepted June 19, 2006
Please join StudyMode to read the full document