Monday, February 14, 2011

your eyes might not deceive you, but who has taught them where to look and what to register?

Your eyes might deceive you, wise words from Obiwan Kenobi. In the world of science we keep an ongoing dialogue with nature, life and existence. The data never lies, but our interpretations might. The same thing goes with communication, I might know what I am communicating but I have no clue what other people will be hearing. But I used to think that if I smile, people will probably know what is going on. It might not be as simple as that.

A bit more than a year ago a publication showed that we interpret facial expressions different in Asia and Europe. East Asians tend to have a harder time telling an image of a face with a fearful expression from a surprised, disgusted from angry. As a Westerner I was surprised to learn this, cause I thought everyone looked at a human face in the same way. The study showed that rather than scanning evenly across a face as Westerners do, Easterners fixate their attention on the eyes. Easterners neglect the mouth. The easy-or so it seemed-communication of feelings was apparently more complicated than we thought, there is no universal face expression to convey emotion in cross-cultural situations. 

This also explains differences in emoticon language.

Where a Westerner writes :D and : (
 thus using the mouth to convey feelings, 
Asians write ^_^ and T_T
 ignoring the mouth and using the eyes to communicate emotion.

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