First Advisor

Peter Ehrenhaus

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication


Facial expression, Japanese national characteristics, American national characteristics



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vii, 103 p.)


In 1971 Paul Ekman posited his Neuro-Cultural Theory of Emotion which stated that expressions of emotion are universal but controlled by cultural display rules. This thesis tests the Neuro-Cultural Theory by having subjects from two cultures, Japan and the United States, judge the perceived appropriateness facial expressions in social situations. Preliminary procedures resulted in a set of scenarios in which socially appropriate responses were deemed to be either "Happy", "Angry" or "Surprised". Data in the experimental phase of the study were collected using a questionnaire format. Through the use of a 5-point Likert scale, each subject rated the appropriateness of happy, anger and surprise expressions in positive, negative and ambiguous social situations. Additionally, the subjects were asked to label each expression in each situation. The responses were analyzed statistically using Analysis of Variance procedures. Label percentages were also calculated for: the second task in the study. No support was found for two of the three research hypotheses, and only partial support was found for a third research hypothesis. These results were discussed in terms of the need for greater theoretical and methodological refinements.


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