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Interpreting Facial Expressions A Cross-cultural and Developmental Study Abstract Various illustrations of faces created by Hockney and Velazquez were shown to subjects who were required to decide which was the most effective of two semantic opposites which described the characters mental state The study challenges notions suggesting that young children from approximately the age of eight years old are able to be interpret facial expressions The study also questions attitudes and ideologies that facial expressions can be universally perceived and that differing cultures and nationalities play no major role in an individuals judgment The results supported what previous works have proposed and demonstrate that children can understand the cognitive mental condition of a person through their facial expressions just as accurately as adults Results regarding cross-cultural examinations also provided evidence that members of differing nationalities held very similar jugements of the several illustrations given to them throughout the study Reading mental states through facial expressions is an imperative factor in peoples ability to socially interact and is preformed by individuals every day in all aspects of their lives It is important to investigate whether adults of varying cultures as well as children are able to perceive a range of facial expression linked with mental conditions When considering whether facial recognition is culturally based or worldwide a ongoing debate has existed Previous studies propose that only a minor collection of facial expressions can be perceived universally with any consistency Darwin 1872 suggested that each emotion constituted its own facial behaviour La Barre as cited in Baron-Cohen etal 1996 on the other hand argued There is no natural language of emotional gesture However evidence had returned back towards a modified universal arrangement since the late 1960s Ekman 1973 1992 concluded that while not all mental conditions are associated with facial expressions which can be universally interpreted a limit of six expressions disgust happiness anger sadness surprise and fear are universally
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