Is There Universal Recognition of Emotion From Facial Expression? A Review of the Cross-Cultural Studies

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Abstract

Emotions are universally recognized from facial expressions—or so it has been claimed. To support that claim, research has been carried out in various modern cultures and in cultures relatively isolated from Western influence. A review of the methods used in that research raises questions of its ecological, convergent, and internal validity. Forced-choice response format, within-subject design, preselected photographs of posed facial expressions, and other features of method are each problematic. When they are altered, less supportive or nonsupportive results occur. When they are combined, these method factors may help to shape the results. Facial expressions and emotion labels are probably associated, but the association may vary with culture and is loose enough to be consistent with various alternative accounts, 8 of which are discussed.

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