Moral expressions in Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom: Cultural similarities and differences in how affective facial muscle activity predicts judgments

Emma Ellen Kathrina BUCHTEL, Leo C. Y. NG, Alexander BIDWELL, Peter R. CANNON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

How does facial muscle activity relate to moral judgments across cultures? To explore this question, we used facial electromyography (EMG) among residents of New Zealand (N = 30) and Hong Kong (N = 40), comparing findings to prior data from the United Kingdom. We recorded EMG involved in expressions of disgust (m.levator labii), anger (m.corrugator supercilii), amusement (m.zygomaticus major), and surprise (m.medial frontalis) while participants thought about 90 scenarios that varied in valence and relevance to the harm, fairness, ingroup, authority, and purity moral dimensions. Overall, levator and corrugator activity were associated with more negative judgments in all samples, while only in Hong Kong a decrease in medial frontalis activity was associated with negativity. Both levator and corrugator were cross-culturally associated with negative judgments in purity scenarios. In contrast to prior findings, harm and fairness violations were associated with different levator and/or corrugator activity across samples. We discuss implications for the relationship between spontaneous facial muscle activity and moral versus negativity judgments across cultures. Copyright © 2020 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEmotion
Early online dateJul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jul 2020

Citation

Buchtel, E. E., Ng, L. C. Y., Bidwell, A., & Cannon, P. R. (2020). Moral expressions in Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom: Cultural similarities and differences in how affective facial muscle activity predicts judgments. Emotion. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/emo0000766

Keywords

  • Culture
  • Moral judgments
  • Facial expressions
  • Emotion
  • Facial electromyography

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