A central question in the study of human behavior is whether

A central question in the study of human behavior is whether or not certain emotions such as anger fear and sadness are recognized across cultures in non-verbal cues. or discrete emotion content based on the foil choice. Above chance accuracy in Himba participants occurred only when foils differed from targets in valence indicating that the voice can reliably convey LY315920 (Varespladib) affective meaning across cultures but that perceptions of emotion from the voice are culturally variable. Think about the last time you heard someone sigh chuckle or groan and concluded that the person was tired amused or frustrated (respectively). The (UH) states that (barring illness) all humans innately express and recognize the same emotions in non-verbal behaviors including vocalizations. Universalist views agree that each emotion has a “fixed set of neural and bodily expressed components” (Tracy & Randles 2011 p. 398). In strong versions of the UH vocal cues are hypothesized to contain sufficient perceptual regularities that broadcast discrete emotion information to perceivers (Scherer 1994 Sauter Eisner Ekman & Scott 2010 As a consequence it is hypothesized that emotions can be “recognized” independent of language or conceptual knowledge (Hoehl & Striano 2010 Izard 1994 In fact vocalizations are thought to allow for improved over facial expressions because they “can travel omni-directionally and over long distances” (Hawk van Kleef Fischer & van der Schalk 2009 p. 294). Even in a strong UH some cultural variation in perception is expected but the LY315920 (Varespladib) mechanisms thought to produce variability (display and decoding rules) are independent of the hypothesized innate mechanisms of expression and perception (Buck 1984 Ekman 1972 Dailey Matsumoto 1989 Schimmack 1996 In a weaker UH versions cultural dialects for universal expressions are hypothesized (e.g. Marsh Elfenbein & Ambady 2003 Elfenbein 2013 In all UH versions however cross cultural “recognition” levels for discrete emotion categories are expected to be where participants are asked to decipher emotion cues from a culture with which they have LY315920 (Varespladib) limited exposure (Norenzayan & Heine 2005 Rabbit Polyclonal to OR5M3. To our knowledge only one published study has examined the UH with vocal cues in participants from a remote culture (Sauter et al. 2010 Sauter et al. tested whether Himba individuals residing in remote villages in northwestern Namibia perceived Western non-verbal vocal utterances (laughs screams sighs etc.) in line with their intended “universal” emotional meaning (i.e. the Western model of “amusement” “fear” “relief” and so on). On each trial participants’ task was to select which of two vocalizations (e.g. a sigh vs. a scream) corresponded to a story about an emotional situation described with an emotion word (e.g. “Someone is suddenly faced with a dangerous animal and feels very scared”). More frequently than chance Himba participants chose the vocalization that best fit the Western model (e.g. the scream for “fear”) leading Sauter et al. to claim support for the UH. Despite the ubiquity of universality claims in popular and scientific circles empirical evidence questioning the reliability of universal LY315920 (Varespladib) emotion perception steadily accumulates (for a review see Barrett 2011 for a review see Barrett Mesquita & Gendron 2011 First there is growing evidence for deeper cross-cultural variation in mental representations of emotion (e.g. Jack Garrod Yu Caldara & Schyns 2012 Second studies providing the strongest support for the UH include emotion concept cues within the task; tasks that do not prime emotion concept knowledge (by asking participants to freely label expressions rather than choose the label from provided response options) or reduce accessibility of emotion concepts (e.g. using semantic satiation) impair emotion perception even in US participants (Boucher & Carlson 1980 Gendron Lindquist Barsalou & Barrett 2012 Ekman & Rosenberg 1997 Lindquist Barrett Bliss-Moreau & Russell 2006 Widen Christy Hewett & Russell 2011 see also Table S1). The present set of experiments seek to explicitly examine the role that conceptual context plays in shaping perceptions of vocalizations across cultures. We travelled to remote part of northwestern Namibia to examine whether individuals from the Himba ethnic group (who live in villages that are relatively isolated from Western cultural practices and norms) perceive the intended emotions.