Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1572-0373
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0381
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We report two experimental studies of human perceptions of robotic facial expressions while systematically varying context effects and the cultural background of subjects (n = 93). Except for Fear, East Asian and Western subjects were not significantly different in recognition rates, and, while Westerners were better at judging affect from mouth movement alone, East Asians were not any better at judging affect based on eye/brow movement alone. Moreover, context effects appeared capable of over-riding such cultural differences, most notably for Fear. The results seem to run counter to previous theories of cultural differences in facial expression based on emoticons and eye fixation patterns. We connect this to broader research in cognitive science – suggesting the findings support a dynamical systems view of social cognition as an emergent phenomenon. The results here suggest that, if we can induce appropriate context effects, it may be possible to create culture-neutral models of robots and affective interaction.


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