Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, and at Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA, studied the distinctiveness of facial emotions including happy, angry, afraid, and sad. I
n general, they found the left side of the face appears more expressive of emotions, is more uninhibited, and displays culture- specific emotional norms. The right side of the face is less susceptible to cultural-display norms and exhibits more universal emotional signals.
North Americans showed a left- sided facial bias (controlled by the right hemisphere) for expressing all emotions The Japanese showed a right-sided facial bias (controlled by the left hemisphere) for positive emotions, but a left-sided facial bias (controlled by the right hemisphere) for negative emotions.
Overall, negative emotional expressions were least distinctly identifiable in Japanese faces, followed by Oriental Indian, and North American faces.
Quite naturally, studies have been directed toward the differences between cultures—although what actually constitutes a culture is up for debate. It’s important to remember to approach cultural neuroscience with an open mind.
The results are neither right or wrong, good or bad. Sometimes they are similar; often they differ, but cultural differences add color and interest to our lives.