Cultural Differences in Facial Expressiveness Essay

Cultural Differences in Facial Expressiveness Essay

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“One cannot not communicate“, (Watzlawick et al. 1967) because every behaviour, even if it is silent and may occur below the level of consciousness, reveals information about oneself. It remains doubtful, though, how far the disclosed information matches the way it got received. Even if non verbal communication is performed advisedly, may the sender always rest assured that his message reached the receiver correctly? In the light of intercultural differences it is highly dubiously. However, according to Charles Darwin (1872/1998), regarding facial expressions it is not: “[...] the same state of mind is expressed throughout the world with remarkable uniformity“

In his work The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals Darwin claims to have found out that the six most relevant feelings (happy, surprise, fear, disgust, anger, and sad) are reflected identically by facial expressions throughout the whole world, since we all share the same ancestors. This theory was considered as assured over many years. However, Rachael E. Jack (2012) challenges Darwin's statement by submitting that

“Cultural specificity in the facial expression models therefore
likely reflects differences in the facial expression signals transmitted
and encountered by observers in their social environment.“

Against the background of this, the present paper is in particular concerned with the cross-cultural similarities and differences of facial epressiveness, having the Asian and Western Culture in contemplation.

Verbal communication without moving any body parts is easily done, whereas speaking without allowing the face to move is rather impossible. Therefore, one can assume that facial expressiveness, besides speech, is the most common and important wa...


... middle of paper ...


...face reveals: basic and applied studies of spontaneous expression using the facial action coding system (FACS). 2nd ed 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press

SUSSKIND, J. M. et al., 2008. Generating Facial Expressions with Deep Belief Nets. In Affective Computing, Emotion Modelling, Synthesis and Recognition. Chapter 23

TANAKA, A. et al., 2010. Cultural Differences in the Multisensory Perception of Emotion. Psychological science, 21(9), 1259-1262

MATSUMOTO, D., B. WILLINGHAM, 2009. Spontaneous facial expressions of emotion of congenitally and noncongenitally blind individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(1), 1-10

MORRIS, D., 2002. People Watching the Desmond Morris guide to body language. London: Vintage

AKECHI, H. et al. 2013. Attention to Eye Contact in the West and East: Autonomic Responses and Evaluative Ratings. PloS one, Vol.8(3), e59312

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