Open Forum


, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 307-315

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Cultural dialects of real and synthetic emotional facial expressions

  • Zsófia RuttkayAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, University of Twente Email author 


In this article we discuss the aspects of designing facial expressions for virtual humans (VHs) with a specific culture. First we explore the notion of cultures and its relevance for applications with a VH. Then we give a general scheme of designing emotional facial expressions, and identify the stages where a human is involved, either as a real person with some specific role, or as a VH displaying facial expressions. We discuss how the display and the emotional meaning of facial expressions may be measured in objective ways, and how the culture of displayers and the judges may influence the process of analyzing human facial expressions and evaluating synthesized ones. We review psychological experiments on cross-cultural perception of emotional facial expressions. By identifying the culturally critical issues of data collection and interpretation with both real and VHs, we aim at providing a methodological reference and inspiration for further research.