Americans and Japanese Read Faces Differently
‘Culture is a huge factor in determining whether we look someone in the eye or the kisser to interpret facial expressions, according to a new study.
For instance, in Japan, people tend to look to the eyes for emotional cues, whereas Americans tend to look to the mouth, says researcher Masaki Yuki, a behavioral scientist at Hokkaido University in Japan. [..]
So when Yuki entered graduate school and began communicating with American scholars over e-mail, he was often confused by their use of emoticons such as smiley faces 🙂 and sad faces, or :(.
“It took some time before I finally understood that they were faces,” he wrote in an e-mail. In Japan, emoticons tend to emphasize the eyes, such as the happy face (^_^) and the sad face (;_;). “After seeing the difference between American and Japanese emoticons, it dawned on me that the faces looked exactly like typical American and Japanese smiles,” he said.’