Toward a Dialect Theory: Cultural Differences in the Expression and Recognition of Posed Facial Expressions

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Two studies provided direct support for a recently proposed dialect
theory of communicating emotion, positing that expressive displays
show cultural variations similar to linguistic dialects, thereby
decreasing accurate recognition by out-group members. In Study 1,
60 participants from Quebec and Gabon posed facial expressions. Dialects,in
the form of activating different muscles for the same expressions,
emerged most clearly for serenity, shame, and contempt and also for
anger, sadness, surprise, and happiness, but not for fear, disgust,
or embarrassment. In Study 2, Quebecois and Gabonese participants
judged these stimuli and stimuli standardized to erase cultural dialects.
As predicted, an in-group advantage emerged for nonstandardized expressions
only and most strongly for expressions with greater regional dialects,
according to Study 1.

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