Xia Fang: "Perceiving and Producing Facial Expressions of Emotion: The Role of Dynamic Expressions and Culture"

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Xia Fang: "Perceiving and Producing Facial Expressions of Emotion: The Role of Dynamic Expressions and Culture"

On May 9, 2018 Xia Fang successfully defended the PhD thesis entitled "Perceiving and Producing Facial Expressions of Emotion: The Role of Dynamic Expressions and Culture" at University of Amsterdam.

Promotors
Gerben A. van Kleef
Disa A. Sauter


Summary

We spend much of our waking lives interacting with other people, reading their facial expressions to figure out what they might be feeling, thinking, or intending to do next (Ekman 1994; Fridlund 1994). At the same time, we also express our own feelings, thoughts, and intentions through facial expressions. Knowing how to read and express emotional facial expressions is not always easy, and it may become particularly challenging when interacting with people from other cultures (Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002; Elfenbein & Ambady, 2003; Elfenbein, Beaupré, Lévesque, & Hess, 2007). The goal of the present dissertation was to shed more light on the two processes of emotion communication—expression and perception/inference—with a primary focus on the roles of dynamic expressions and cultural frame in emotion communication. The empirical work presented here highlights that (a) people from different cultures differ in the specificity of emotion communication (i.e., Westerners are more specific than Easterners in both perception and production of facial expressions of emotion), (b) people from different cultures differ in the interpretation of positive emotions (i.e., the interpretation of a smile depends on its intensity and cultural context), and (c) people infer others’ personality traits based on their perception of dynamic facial expressions (i.e., people weigh the end emotion more heavily than the start emotion in dynamic facial expressions). While the current work answers some important questions, many questions remain and new ones emerge. It is my hope that this dissertation might stimulate future work that extends these findings.


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University of Amsterdam
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