Auditory-Visual Speech Processing (AVSP) 2013

Annecy, France
August 29 - September 1, 2013

Culture and Nonverbal Cues: How Does Power Distance Influence Facial Expressions in Game Contexts?

Phoebe Mui, Martijn Goudbeek, Marc Swerts, Per van der Wijst

Department of Communication and Information Sciences, Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Power distance is one of the most prominent cultural dimensions underlying cultural differences in beliefs and values. However, how power distance is evident in the more tangible domain of behavior, such as nonverbal cues, has not been well-documented. In our study, we recruited Dutch (low power distance culture) and Chinese (high power distance culture) university students to play games against two opponents via an ostensibly real-time internet connection. Unbeknownst to the participants, the two opponents were in fact confederates, who assumed the role of either a highly successful full professor or a down-to-earth undergraduate freshman. Throughout the game, participants were videotaped. Analyses of the resulting recordings showed that Chinese students showed more submission in their nonverbal behavior than Dutch students in general; what was most remarkable was that such a cultural difference in submission was more evident when the opponent was a professor than when the opponent was a fellow student. To the best of our knowledge, these findings are the first to illustrate that the role of power distance could indeed be reflected in nonverbal behavior exhibited in a naturalistic social setting.

Index Terms: nonverbal cues, facial expressions, culture, power distance, game contexts

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mui, Phoebe / Goudbeek, Martijn / Swerts, Marc / Wijst, Per van der (2013): "Culture and nonverbal cues: how does power distance influence facial expressions in game contexts?", In AVSP-2013, 21-26.