Culture shapes 7-month-olds' perceptual strategies in discriminating facial expressions of emotion

Geangu, Elena and Ichikawa, Hiroko and Lao, Junpeg and Kanazawa, So and Yamaguchi, Masami and Caldara, Roberto and Turati, Chiara (2016) Culture shapes 7-month-olds' perceptual strategies in discriminating facial expressions of emotion. Current Biology, 26 (14). R663-R664. ISSN 0960-9822

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Emotional facial expressions are thought to have evolved because they play a crucial role in species’ survival. From infancy, humans develop dedicated neural circuits to exhibit and recognize a variety of facial expressions. But there is increasing evidence that culture specifies when and how certain emotions can be expressed — social norms — and that the mature perceptual mechanisms used to transmit and decode the visual information from emotional signals differ between Western and Eastern adults. Specifically, the mouth is more informative for transmitting emotional signals in Westerners and the eye region for Easterners, generating culturespecific fixation biases towards these features. During development, it is recognized that cultural differences can be observed at the level of emotional reactivity and regulation, and to the culturally dominant modes of attention. Nonetheless, to our knowledge no study has explored whether culture shapes the processing of facial emotional signals early in development. The data we report here show that, by 7 months, infants from both cultures visually discriminate facial expressions of emotion by relying on culturally distinct fixation strategies, resembling those used by the adults from the environment in which they develop.

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Journal Article
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Current Biology
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Current Biology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Current Biology, 26, (14) 2016 DOI: 10.1016/S0370-1573(02)00269-7
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Deposited On:
07 Jun 2016 15:08
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 01:01