Revisiting the Out-Group Advantage in Emotion Recognition in a Multicultural Society: Further Evidence for the In-Group Advantage

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Recent studies have accumulated supporting evidence for in-group advantage in emotion recognition, with individuals more accurately perceiving emotions expressed by cultural in-group members. However, inconsistent results appear in balanced-design studies involving the majority and minority groups residing within a single nation: There is an apparent pattern of an out-group advantage, implying that minority group members show heightened sensitivity toward emotional expressions of the majority group members. Two studies were conducted to further explore why the out-group advantage emerged in multicultural societies. In Study 1, based on a careful review of existing studies involving majority and minority groups, both new and previously reviewed, a new approach to assess the in-group and out-group advantage was proposed and applied. In Study 2, the minority out-group advantage was further tested in an experimental study. European American and Asian American students were asked to identify emotions of European and Asian Americans presented in static photos of imitated emotional expressions and full-channel video presentations of spontaneous emotional expressions. The results revealed that a mutual in-group advantage was observed in the spontaneous expressions condition, but not in the imitated expression condition. Significance and implications of the findings from this study are discussed regarding intergroup interactions in a multicultural society.

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