Cultural divide in ability to recognize sensual sounds

Mar 18, 2010

An F1000 evaluation looks at a British study of how the six basic human emotions are universally recognized but other positive emotions are culturally specific

Humans use a wide range of different cues, both verbal and non-verbal, to share important information and particularly to warn others of danger. A team from University College London's psychology department studied a range of non-verbal emotional vocalizations, such as screams and laughs, in two very different cultural groups.

The study, published in of the USA, compared the responses of Westerners to those of the remote and culturally isolated semi-nomadic Himba people of Namibia. The experimenters discovered that vocalizations expressing the six basic emotions - anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise - were recognized by both groups, indicating that they, like , are universally evolved functions.

However, when an additional set of was introduced - achievement, sensual pleasure and relief - they were only reliably recognized by the Western subjects. The cultural variations discovered by Sauter et al suggest that the of some positive emotions may be learned socially, rather than representing products of evolution.

Describing the experiment as 'fascinating' in her review, F1000 Faculty Member Argye Hills, of Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, says the study, "highlights the importance of considering a range of positive emotions in cross-cultural research."

Explore further: Controlling childbirth pain tied to lower depression risk

More information: The full text of the evaluation of is available free for 90 days at www.f1000medicine.com/article/… 0px41bmfg/id/2251956

The original paper by Sauter et al. (Cross-cultural recognition of basic emotions through nonverbal emotional vocalizations) is at dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0908239106

Provided by Faculty of 1000: Biology and Medicine

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Linguistics may be clue to emotions

Jan 20, 2005

Words may be a clue to how people, regardless of their language, think about and process emotions, according to a Penn State researcher. "It has been suggested in the past that all cultures have in common a small number of ...

Links found between happiness and health

Dec 14, 2005

Carnegie Mellon University scientists say there's growing evidence positive emotions such as happiness are linked with good health and increased longevity.

Language of music really is universal, study finds

Mar 19, 2009

Native African people who have never even listened to the radio before can nonetheless pick up on happy, sad, and fearful emotions in Western music, according to a new report published online on March 19th in Current Biology. The re ...

Consumer behavior linked with emotions

Nov 15, 2005

Scientists at Pennsylvania State University and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands say extraneous emotions can affect consumer purchases.

Recognition of facial expressions is not universal

Jan 26, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Caucasians and Asians don't examine faces in the same way, according to new research. PhD student Caroline Blais, of the Université de Montréal Department of Psychology, has ...

Recommended for you

Controlling childbirth pain tied to lower depression risk

5 hours ago

Controlling pain during childbirth and post delivery may reduce the risk of postpartum depression, writes Katherine Wisner, M.D., a Northwestern MedicineĀ® perinatal psychiatrist, in a July 23 editorial in Anesthesia & An ...

How children categorize living things

14 hours ago

How would a child respond to this question? Would his or her list be full of relatives, animals from movies and books, or perhaps neighborhood pets? Would the poppies blooming on the front steps make the list or the oak tree ...

Preschoolers can reflect on what they don't know

14 hours ago

Contrary to previous assumptions, researchers find that preschoolers are able to gauge the strength of their memories and make decisions based on their self-assessments. The study findings are published in ...

User comments : 0