Previous studies showed that East Asians are more sensitive than North Americans to contextual information, and that the cultural differences in context sensitivity emerge in preschool children. Yet, little is known about whether this generalizes to children’s emotional judgments. The present study tested Canadian and Japanese preschool children and examined cross-culturally the extent to which facial expressions of surrounding people influence judgments of a target person’s emotion. Japanese children were more likely than Canadian children to judge an emotionally-neutral target as more negative (positive) when the background emotion was negative (positive), demonstrating an assimilation effect. Canadian children, however, showed a contrast effect: judging the target person’s neutral emotion as more negative when the background emotion was positive. These data extend extant understanding of emotion recognition by illuminating nuances in perceptual processes across developmental and cultural lines.
Current Psychology – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 20, 2016
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