Culture and Facial Expression: Open-ended Methods Find More Expressions and a Gradient of Recognition
We used multiple methods to examine two questions about emotion and culture: (1) Which facial expressions are recognised cross-culturally; and (2) does the “forced-choice” method lead to spurious findings of universality? Forty participants in the US and 40 in India were shown 14 facial expressions and asked to say what had happened to cause the person to make the face. Analyses of the social situations given and of the affect words spontaneously used showed high levels of recognition for most of the expressions. A subsequent forced-choice task using the same faces confirmed these findings. Analysis of the pattern of magnitude, discreteness, and similarity of responses across cultures and expressions led to the conclusion that there is no neat distinction between cross-culturally recognisable and nonrecognisable expressions. Results are better described as a gradient of recognition.