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Unattended Emotional Prosody Affects Visual Processing of Facial Expressions in Mandarin-Speaking Chinese: A Comparison With English-Speaking Canadians.

Authors
  • Liu, Pan1, 2
  • Rigoulot, Simon1, 3
  • Jiang, Xiaoming1, 4
  • Zhang, Shuyi1
  • Pell, Marc D1
  • 1 McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 2 Western University, London, ON, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 3 Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, QC, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 4 Tongji University, Shanghai, China. , (China)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of cross-cultural psychology
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2021
Volume
52
Issue
3
Pages
275–294
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/0022022121990897
PMID: 33958813
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Emotional cues from different modalities have to be integrated during communication, a process that can be shaped by an individual's cultural background. We explored this issue in 25 Chinese participants by examining how listening to emotional prosody in Mandarin influenced participants' gazes at emotional faces in a modified visual search task. We also conducted a cross-cultural comparison between data of this study and that of our previous work in English-speaking Canadians using analogous methodology. In both studies, eye movements were recorded as participants scanned an array of four faces portraying fear, anger, happy, and neutral expressions, while passively listening to a pseudo-utterance expressing one of the four emotions (Mandarin utterance in this study; English utterance in our previous study). The frequency and duration of fixations to each face were analyzed during 5 seconds after the onset of faces, both during the presence of the speech (early time window) and after the utterance ended (late time window). During the late window, Chinese participants looked more frequently and longer at faces conveying congruent emotions as the speech, consistent with findings from English-speaking Canadians. Cross-cultural comparison further showed that Chinese, but not Canadians, looked more frequently and longer at angry faces, which may signal potential conflicts and social threats. We hypothesize that the socio-cultural norms related to harmony maintenance in the Eastern culture promoted Chinese participants' heightened sensitivity to, and deeper processing of, angry cues, highlighting culture-specific patterns in how individuals scan their social environment during emotion processing. © The Author(s) 2021.

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