The current study analyzes trans-cultural universalities and specificities in the recognition of status roles, dominance perception and social evaluation based on nonverbal cues. Using a novel methodology, which allowed to mask clues to ethnicity and cultural background of the agents, we compared impression of Germans, Americans and Arabs observing computer-animated interactions from the three countries. Only in the German stimulus sample the status roles (employee vs. supervisor) could be recognized above chance level. However we found significant correlations in dominance perception across all countries. Significant correlations were only found for evaluation between German observers and observers from the other two countries. Perceived dominance uniformly predicted the assignment of status-roles in all cultures. Microanalysis of movement behavior further revealed predictive value of specific nonverbal cues for dominance ratings. Results support the hypothesis of universalities in the processing of dominance cues and point to cultural specificities in evaluative responses to nonverbal behavior. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
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