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American-Japanese cultural differences in intensity ratings of facial expressions of emotion

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Abstract

Findings from a recent study by Ekmanet al. (1987) provided evidence for cultural disagreement about the intensity ratings of universal facial expressions of emotion. We conducted a study that examined the basis of these cultural differences. Japanese and American subjects made two separate intensity ratings of Japanese and Caucacian posers portraying anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. The Americans had higher mean intensity ratings than the Japanese for all emotions except disgust, regardless of the culture or gender of the poser. Americans gave happy and angry photos the highest intensity ratings, while Japanese gave disgust photos the highest ratings. But there was considerable cross-cultural consistency in the relative differences among photos.

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This study was conducted as part of a doctoral dissertation by the first author, under the supervision of the second author. David Matsumoto was supported by a minority fellowship from the American Psychological Association, under a Clinical Training Grant from NIMH (MH13833), and by a Regents Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley. Paul Ekman was supported by a Research Scientist Award from NIMH (MH06092).

We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Wallace V. Friesen to the development of the facial stimuli used in this study, Tsutomu Kudoh for his aid in collecting the Japanese data, and Wallace Friesen and Maureen O'Sullivan for their aid during data analysis.

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Matsumoto, D., Ekman, P. American-Japanese cultural differences in intensity ratings of facial expressions of emotion. Motiv Emot 13, 143–157 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00992959

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