Facial expressions across cultures

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Researchers from Glasgow University took a look at how East Asians interpret facial expressions as compared to those from the West:

In the study, East Asians were more likely than Westerners to read the expression for “fear” as “surprise”, and “disgust” as “anger”.

One critical difference discovered is that East Asians tend to focus mostly on the eyes while Westerners tend to scan the entire face in order to understand emotional expressions.  An interesting side note in the BBC article was this difference in reading facial expressions is also translated into the different emoticons used by Westerners versus East Asians.  Some examples:

EmotionWestEast
‘Happy’🙂(^_^)
‘Sad’🙁(;_;) or (T_T)
‘Surprise’😮(o.o)

expressions


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