Cross-cultural emotional prosody recognition: Evidence from Chinese and British listeners

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Paulmann, Silke ; Uskul, Ayse K. (2014)

This cross-cultural study of emotional tone of voice recognition tests the in-group advantage hypothesis (Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002) employing a quasi-balanced design. Individuals of Chinese and British background were asked to recognize pseudo-sentences produced by Chinese and British native speakers, displaying one of seven emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happy, neutral tone of voice, sad, and surprise). Findings revealed that emotional displays were recognized at rates higher than predicted by chance; however, members of each cultural group were more accurate in recognizing the displays communicated by a member of their own cultural group than a member of the other cultural group. Moreover, the evaluation of error matrices indicates that both culture groups relied on similar mechanism when recognizing emotional displays from the voice. Overall, the study reveals evidence for both universal and culture-specific principles in vocal emotion recognition.
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