Differential emotion attribution to neutral faces of own and other races

Abstract: Past research has demonstrated differential recognition of emotion on faces of different races. This paper reports the first study to explore differential emotion attribution to neutral faces of different races. Chinese and Caucasian adults viewed a series of Chinese and Caucasian neutral faces and judged their outward facial expression: neutral, positive, or negative. The results showed that both Chinese and Caucasian viewers perceived more Chinese faces than Caucasian faces as neutral. Nevertheless, Chinese viewers attributed positive emotion to Caucasian faces more than to Chinese faces, whereas Caucasian viewers attributed negative emotion to Caucasian faces more than to Chinese faces. Moreover, Chinese viewers attributed negative and neutral emotion to the faces of both races without significant difference in frequency, whereas Caucasian viewers mostly attributed neutral emotion to the faces. These differences between Chinese and Caucasian viewers may be due to differential visual experience, culture, racial stereotype, or expectation of the experiment. We also used eye tracking among the Chinese participants to explore the relationship between face-processing strategy and emotion attribution to neutral faces. The results showed that the interaction between emotion attribution and face race was significant on face-processing strategy, such as fixation proportion on eyes and saccade amplitude. Additionally, pupil size during processing Caucasian faces was larger than during processing Chinese faces.


Emotion attribution; face processing; neutral face; other race

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