Are facial expressions contagious in the Japanese?

Tamura, R.; Kameda, T.

The Japanese journal of psychology 77(4): 377-382


DOI: 10.4992/jjpsy.77.377
Accession: 068501800

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Previous studies, mainly with Caucasian samples, have shown that facial expressions of emotion are contagious, a phenomenon known as facial mimicry. This study examined facial mimicry using a Japanese sample. Participants were shown a series of Japanese faces (from Matsumoto and Ekman, 1988) on a computer screen expressing "happiness", "sadness", "anger", or "disgust". While viewing the facial expressions, electoromyograms (EMG) of the participants' faces were recorded to see whether their own facial muscles corresponding to the stimulus faces were activated. Consistent with the previous studies using Caucasian samples, all four facial expressions were mimicked. The peak time of mimicry of angry or happy faces was later, while that of disgusted faces was relatively sooner. The potential relation of facial mimicry to "emotional contagion", a social phenomenon whereby subjective feelings transfer between people, is discussed.