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Marie-Pier Plouffe Demers, Camille Saumure, Stéphanie Cormier, Daniel Fiset, Miriam Kunz, Dan Sun, Zhang Ye, Caroline Blais; The impact of culture on the visual representation of pain facial expressions. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1108. doi: 10.1167/18.10.1108.
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Some studies suggest that communication of pain is connected to the evolution of human race and has evolved in a way to increase an individual's chance of survival (Williams, 2002). However, even though facial expressions of emotions have long been considered culturally universal (Izard, 1994; Matsumoto & Willingham, 2009), some studies revealed cultural differences in the perceptual mechanisms underlying their recognition (e.g. Jack et al., 2009; Jack et al., 2012). The present study aims to verify the impact of culture on the facial features that are stored by individuals in their mental representation of pain facial expressions. In that respect, observer-specific mental representations of 60 participants (i.e. 30 Caucasians, 30 Chineses) have been measured using the Reverse Correlation method (Mangini & Biederman, 2004). In 500 trials, participants chose, from two stimuli, the face that looked the most in pain. For each trial, both stimuli would consist of the same base face (i.e. morph between average Asian and Caucasian avatars showing low pain level) with random noise superimposed, one with a random noise pattern added, and the other the same pattern subtracted. We generated a classification image (CI) for each group by averaging noise patterns chosen by participants. The cultural impact on mental representations was measured by subtracting the Caucasian CI from the Chinese CI, to which was applied a Stat4CI cluster test (Chauvin et al., 2005). Results indicate significant differences in the mouth and left eyebrow areas (ZCrit=3.09, K=167, p< 0.025), and suggest a mental representation of pain facial expression of greater intensity for Chinese participants. Given that mental representations reflect expectations about the world based on past experiences (Jack et al., 2012), the results suggest that Chinese participants may have previously been exposed to facial expressions displaying greater pain intensities.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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